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Signs your parents may not be coping mentally

Signs your parents may not be coping mentally

Even if you're not privy to the details of your parents' finances, if you pay attention you'll see early indications that things could be not as you would like. If you notice a problem in one area, there might be problems in another. Physical illness and/or response to medications, loss of a spouse, and depression are among the most common precipitating factors. Here are some of the warning signs that your parents' finances are off track:

1.Mail is piling up unopened in their house. The next time you're at your parents' house, look around the kitchen or mail area. Are there stacks of unsorted mail? What about piles of statements from banks or credit card companies, utilities, notices from the Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink or other unopened envelopes that appear to be bills?

2.Your parents appear to be mishandling money or forgetful about cash. When you are out with your parents, does your parent open his/her wallet, only to be surprised that s/he doesn't have enough money to pay for something? Do you see un-deposited cheques or unopened mail from pension funds, insurance companies, or Centrelink hiding in piles of paperwork or lost amid household clutter? These can be early signs that your parent isn't paying close attention to their money. They may be physically unable to make the daily or weekly trips to the ATM or bank to deposit cheques and take out cash, or they may be getting increasingly forgetful about their day-to-day financial dealings

3.Creditors are showing up in their phone lists. Your parents' phone offers a quick and easy way to check to see whether creditors are contacting -- or harassing -- them. Check the caller ID history and keep track of any increase in phone calls from new or numbers that are marked as “unknown”. These may be bill collectors. You may also notice repeated phone calls from credit card companies or household help, such as gardeners or housecleaners looking for back wages.

4.The house is filling with new purchases, or they've acquired expensive new hobbies. Take a look around your parents' house. Does it look like they've been doing heavy-duty damage to their credit cards? Do you see lots of new and expensiv purchases around the house, like furniture, art, knickknacks, or fancy appliances such as flat-screen TVs?

5.Maybe they've been travelling more than usual or taken up some other costly new habit like weekly golf outings to the most expensive course in town. No one begrudges their parents the right to enjoy themselves or have an occasional splurge -- especially if they're retired and finally relaxing after years of hard work. But a sudden increase in purchases or expenses can be a sign that your parents are overextending themselves and developing a compulsive spending habi

6.They're gambling more often or for higher stakes than usual. Many people -- especially senior citizens -- enjoy organized trips to local casinos or weekly bingo or bridge games at the senior centre. Trips to the casino are a popular excursion for many groups, and although there is no reason to panic over the occasional bus trip to Jupiters or to bargain shopping destinations, if these activities increase significantly over time, you have to face the possibility that your parents may have a gambling and/or spending problem. If this is the case, gambling/spending related expenses could easily mount up at any time.

7.You see or hear evidence that they’re falling victim to financial scams. Look through that mail pile and the caller ID log. Do you see catalogues from unfamiliar companies, sweepstakes mailings, solicitations for investment schemes, or holiday home offers? What about frequent or repeated phone calls from unfamiliar numbers? Or has one of your parents excitedly told you about a certain can't-miss investment scheme he heard about from a neighbour? Put your elderly parents on the National Do Not Call Registry.

8.Older people can be especially vulnerable to scam artists, door-to-door salesman and shady telemarketers -- or even well-meaning friends who have already fallen prey to this kind of scheme -- not only because they often have significant assets but also because they may be lonely or may welcome the attention.

9.They're complaining about not having enough money. Does the subject of money come up in conversation more than it used to? Do your parents make more passing references to the high costs of living expenses like gas, electricity, and groceries? You may also see more subtle signs that money is tight -- they may decline invitations to go out to eat with friends because of the cost, make fewer car trips because of high petrol prices, and skip home fixes like house painting and appliance repairs. All of these can be signs that your parents' expenses are too much for them to deal with on their own. You might also want to check through some of the credit card bills to see where the debt is going to. Are there significant mail order purchases, medication charges or charitable donations?

10.They seem physically unable to complete daily tasks like banking and bill paying. Tasks that once seemed mundane can become unmanageable if your parents' physical or mental state is deteriorating. The weekly trip to the ATM may be no big deal to you, but if your parents have vision problems that prevent them from driving or health issues that keep them from long walks, it may be hard for them to make it to the bank on a regular basis. Likewise, paying bills by mail can become burdensome if arthritis makes writing cheques and addressing envelopes painful. Pay attention to their general health, and you'll likely be able to keep tabs on their financial health as well.

11.Encourage your parents to use it or lose it. Doing something completely different to what they have done in the past such as Sudoku, becoming more computer literate, and learning a new language or a skill like wood turning has been shown to assist mental fitness. Taking part in regular exercise, joining social club and sporting clubs will also assist in mental fitness. Reconnecting with family and friends, enjoying a good laugh and keeping a young mind have been shown to push back the hands of time. If they don’t use it, your parents will lose it.