Q: My mother always handled the family finances. After she passed away my father was not capable of assuming responsibility for paying the household bills. He was really depressed and started declining cognitively. I have been coming over once a week to help him out. I just received a job promotion which will involve a lot of traveling. Is there a resource which can take over the bill paying now that I will be away for weeks at a time?
A: The scenario you described with your father isn’t all that unusual. Families and friends often make attempts to assist the older adult with managing their finances as you have been doing. It is important for everyone to know there is a Financial Resource Program at Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. to take on the burden of this task when no one is available. The no cost service can be essential in making it possible for the older adult (age 60+) to continue living independently in their home as long as possible.
The Basic Money Management Service (Bill Payer) Volunteers are screened, trained, supervised and carefully matched with elders having difficulty writing checks, budgeting money or paying routine bills. The volunteer and client set up a visitation schedule to carry out the bill paying tasks. On a regular basis, an independent person reviews all records, which provides protection for both the elder and the volunteer.
Annually we receive over 100 referrals for seniors who could benefit from being matched with a Bill Payer. The reasons for the individual needing assistance can range from their inability to manage their financial resources due to poor vision, confusion, illiteracy, arthritis restricting the usage of their hands, unwise spending of their money to financial exploitation. There are countless good news stories in which the Bill Payer Volunteer has managed to prevent foreclosure of the elder’s home or eviction for non-payment of rent. They have also been instrumental in working with utility companies to stop shut off of utilities due to overdue bills.
We encourage anyone who is aware of an elder who could benefit from this service to contact us at 1-800-892-0890. The sooner someone is connected with a Bill Payer Volunteer the more likely a crisis could be averted.
Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.
Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to email@example.com or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the CEO of Elder Services.