Online ordering, television shopping channels and mail-order catalogs make it very appealing for seniors to shop as a hobby or pastime that can quickly lead to an addiction. Some seniors may have had shopaholic tendencies their whole lives, while others ramp up their spending to overcome feelings of depression, boredom or loneliness. Retail therapy can offer a mood boost, although it is short-lived. In severe cases, hoarding can also accompany reckless spending. Either or both of these behaviors may indicate a mental health issue or cognitive decline.
How can a caregiver step in and help manage a senior’s finances?
Like driving, the right to spend gives seniors a sense of autonomy. This can make seniors very reluctant to grant anyone access to their financial records or their spending habits. It may be best to bring in a third party to help handle this challenge. The first place to start is by making an appointment with the senior’s primary care physician or a specialist for a cognitive evaluation. This helps to rule out dementia and other cognitive issues.
If it turns out that the cognitive evaluation shows the senior is still competent, there may be very little that you can do legally from that point. However, if you are still concerned about the spending and damage to finances you may be able to get a friend, spiritual leader or financial advisor involved to discuss a realistic budget and shed light on any underlying issues causing the senior to overspend.
Hopefully, all legal preparations are in place, including a financial power of attorney (POA) which will allow a trustworthy representative to access the senior’s finances and begin making appropriate decisions. If you need assistance making these types of legal preparations, contact the experienced, compassionate Elder Law and Estate Planning attorneys at Stouffer Legal in the greater Baltimore area.