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When Should You Start Helping With Your Parents' Finances?

Posted by Aubrey Carew Sizer | Oct 31, 2022

An analysis published in September 2022 showed that seniors with cognitive impairment are struggling to handle their financial affairs. Reviewing a survey of 8,800 men and women aged 65 and older, the researchers found that seniors continued to maintain control over their finances even when experiencing some sort of cognitive decline.

In the population studied, almost 14 percent of these older adults suffered from cognitively impaired nondementia (CIND). Another 6 percent were experiencing dementia.

The study reported that cognitive impairment problems disproportionately affected groups who reported having less education or who identified as a member of a racial minority group. 

Does Your Parent Show Signs of Cognitive Impairment?

There are some signs that may indicate diminished cognitive ability. Watch out for the following if you suspect your parent is experiencing diminished mental capacity:

  • Your parents are confused and get lost in familiar places
  • Your parents may lose their train of thought throughout a conversation with you
  • Your parents are more forgetful
  • Your parents forget about important events (like birthdays, holidays, and doctor's appointments)
  • Your parents are making impulsive decisions

Are Your Parents' Financial Resources at Risk?

If your parents have a large estate, you should take care to determine whether they have any cognitive impairment. The study found that many of the men and women surveyed had large amounts of money or property valued at more than $100,000.

“Risky” financial assets, like valuable stock portfolios, may be “particularly susceptible to mismanagement” in those with cognitive impairment, the researchers state.

What Can I Do For My Parents?

Ensuring that your parents are properly cared for as they age is a priority for many children. However, knowing what you can do for your parents' finances if they have any cognitive impairment is hard.

If you suspect your parents are having a difficult time managing their money because of a cognitive deficiency, consider the following.  

  • Get Them Screened for Cognitive Impairment — The best first step is to confirm your suspicion with a cognitive impairment screening. Typically, patients are asked simple questions about themselves and their surroundings, including their name, address, the time, and to recall information. Learn more about cognitive assessments from the Alzheimer's Association.
  • Find Financial Counseling — You may need professional assistance to ensure your parents' affairs are handled appropriately. You may want to speak to an accountant if your parents' estate is extensive and includes many assets.

If you suspect cognitive impairment, but have not confirmed it, you may wish to appoint a power of attorney or a financial agent to handle your parents' financial affairs.

About the Author

Aubrey Carew Sizer

Aubrey Carew Sizer is the Principal Attorney of The Law Office of Aubrey Carew Sizer PLLC, a Northern Virginia law firm providing representation for Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning, Long-Term Care Planning, Guardianship and Conservatorship, Special Needs Planning for the Disabled, and Probate, Estate and Trust Administration.

Services

The Law Office of Aubrey Carew Sizer PLLC provides customized and affordable estate planning (including wills, living trusts, powers of attorney, and advance medical directives); elder law services (including long-term care planning, special needs planning for the disabled, and guardianships and conservatorships); probate, estate and trust administration (including advising executors and administrators of estates about post-mortem planning and the local probate process in Virginia), as well as general aging and disability advice in Northern Virginia, including but not limited to Arlington, Alexandria, Ashburn, Bristow, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Gainesville, Fairfax, Falls Church, Haymarket, Herndon, Leesburg, Manassas, Manassas Park, Reston, Springfield, Sterling, and throughout Loudoun, Prince William, and Fairfax counties.

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