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How to help an ageing loved-one with money management issues

An elderly man sat on a sofa looking into his empty wallet.

Many people manage to keep their independence when they are older, however, sadly this isn’t always the case.  

A time may come when a loved-one needs extra support in managing their finances.  

The warning signs 

Indications of financial struggles aren’t always evident, however, there are several tell-tale signs which can help you spot if and when intervention may be needed: 

  • Piles of unopened mail 
  • Making unusual or erratic spending choices 
  • Falling behind in utility bill payments 
  • Openly talking about not having the funds to keep up with usual activities  

If you notice a loved one struggling with money matters, there are actions you can undertake to help

Get permission to speak on their behalf 

Utility companies – gas, electricity, broadband and phone for example - will generally only communicate with the named account holder. So, if you want to help a loved-one, ensure you talk to each provider to determine what the procedure is to act on a loved-one's behalf. It may be a case of asking your loved-one to write (or sign) a letter saying they’re happy for you to discuss their account with the company, or alternatively some providers are happy to accept verbal confirmation over the phone.  

Simplify financial tasks 

Paying household bills can be a worry, especially if this is being paid either at the Post Office or by cheque. Not only can this be time consuming, there is also the risk some bills may mistakenly not get paid. Setting up automatic payments through a direct debit will help simplify things and can help to budget more effectively. In addition, some providers offer discounts if bills are paid by direct debit too.  

Do not take full control until necessary 

Give your loved-one control wherever possible as rescinding all financial management can seem daunting, unnatural and confrontational. Instead of sweeping in and taking charge, increase your support little by little. When discussing how you can help them with financial matters, reassure them that it is not an attempt to take-over but instead, a helping hand. This gentle approach will help demonstrate that you are there as support to them while they get comfortable with any new arrangements. 

Talk to your bank and building society 

Your bank and building society are equipped to help you absorb the financial management of a loved one when needed. The first thing to do is contact them. We do everything we can to support our members and their families in these situations and take you through our procedures step-by-step. 

Remember: before making any financial decisions, always undertake your own research and talk to an independent financial adviser. 

If your loved-one requires assistance, we are here to help. Visit our dedicated customer help and support webpage for further information and guides. Alternatively, you are welcome to visit your local branch or contact us by phone, video appointment or email.  

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Sian Dennis Senior Marketing and Communications Officer

Sian is responsible for the running of the Society's Press Office and PR strategy as well as the creation of external marketing collateral, digital copywriting, brand awareness and internal communications.

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