It’s that time of year again: tax season. For many of us, our taxes are already filed or at least being drafted. For some of our elderly family members though, it may have completely slipped their minds!
As we get older it’s easier to become forgetful, which is a purely natural symptom of aging. If you are beginning to notice that your elderly loved ones are forgetting to do basic routine activities - including filing their taxes - perhaps it’s time to make a plan to help.
Now, for those seniors whosesole income is Social Security, they do not need to file a tax return - easy enough! But for many seniors, there are other forms of annual gross income that exceed the limitations of no returns and may sometimes exceed the simple EZ style returns.
In general, especially if you're assisting with tax returns, it’s important to be aware of your elderly loved one’s financial situation. When offering your assistance, be completely objective and observant. Keep an eye out for any warning signs that may indicate they are unable to handle their finances the same way they once did.
If you're concerned in any way, read the top 4 indicators below that might indicate it could be time for some help.
Confusion with dates -if your parents have forgotten that it is tax season, April 15this tax day, can’t recall how they filed in previous years, or have forgotten other important financial information – it’s the perfect opportunity to offer them help or to call a professional.
Unpaid bills –next time you visit, casually check the mail on their table for late notices and unpaid bills. If they are forgetting to pay routine utility bills, they could face having them shut off which is a huge safety risk. Consider introducing them to auto payment options, offer to help or set them up with a professional.
Falling for internet scams - scammers prey on the elderly and mislead them with convincing strategies, so it’s important to discuss this very real problem with your elderly loved ones and make sure they are not giving away personal information to the wrong people. Having a home health aide in the home to help with basic tasks can also serve as an extra level of safety.
Uncashed checks –this may be a sign they are forgetful or simply cannot get to the bank. Many checks have a “void-by” date if not cashed and this could cause serious financial trouble. Offer to help or consider some home health care services for errand assistance.
If any of these warning signs sound familiar, there are many ways to help your loved one stay on track and safe with their money:
Family Help – set up payment reminders, utilize auto payment options, etc.
Seek Professional Financial Assistance – where the financial professional keeps track of all finances and associated dates
Seek Home Health Aide Assistance– where the home aide can provide support and reminders for everyday activities, including keeping up with financial responsibilities