Technology

Senior Financial Literacy

In 2004, the American Society on Aging sponsored a study to test the financial knowledge of Americans age 50+. This included a survey of three simple yes/no questions that assessed the knowledge of the respondents on concepts such as inflation, risk diversification, and interest rates. At that time only one-third of respondents could answer all three questions correctly.*

Since 2009, broader studies have been made within the wider population and the results were similarly dismal. However, there was a clear correlation between age and a failure to understand some basic financial concepts that make up financial literacy. This is especially worrisome given that money and debt management issues are most consequential to seniors.

This may seem an overwhelming topic to tackle for a senior or their family. While getting sound financial advice is one of the first things most money professionals recommend, that can be easier said than done. Many older adults rely on the advice of relatives, friends or neighbors. Yet, this is a strategy that as many as 70 percent of fraud victims report having used. Become more informed and consider learning more from an accredited Financial Advisor. These are the best first steps to improve one’s financial literacy. One online resource for understanding some of the basics is ConsumerCredit.com. This site offers useful tools designed for the 50+ population.

Here are several topics which seniors and their families may wish to consider when evaluating their financial health.

Know where your money is going Do you know where your money is going?

Based on a 2014 survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, over 60% of Americans don’t have a budget. This is the first place to start in developing financial literacy. You cant make informed choices about your money if you don’t know where it is going.

Address your debt 

Now that you know where your money is going, its time to develop a strategy to start eliminating it. This means identifying expenses that you can trim and develop strategies to change your spending habits.

Check your credit report 

Your credit report can impact not only your ability to get a loan but to rent an apartment or land a job. Therefore, it is critical that you check your credit report often and understand the factors that affect it. If your score is low, there are many agencies available to help you start improving it.

Understand your retirement portfolio 

Check your investment choices. For those seniors with retirement portfolios, it is important to understand your risk. While the safety of bonds has always been attractive, a perfect storm may be upon the bond market in the form of anticipated increases in interest rates, tax cuts and a ballooning national debt which will all impact the value of bonds. If your portfolio favors bonds, it may be time to consider a more diversified financial plan. Know whether your total living expenses could ride out a drop in value.

Prepare 

We’ve all heard the rule—you should have three to six months of expenses on hand for an emergency. Even if you don’t think you can get there, start somewhere. Have a set amount put away so if there’s an emergency you have something to fall back on.

* For more information on this study and a more in-depth discussion on the topic of financial literacy, go to asaging.org.

Adapted from The Seniors Choice ‘Improving Senior Financial Literacy’

Thank you to Marie VillezaElderImpact.org) for contributing this piece to our August blog!

Living far away from a senior loved one can be stressful, especially if they have health issues or limited mobility. It can be difficult to know how to help from afar, but often, finances and commitments keep us from being able to travel.

Fortunately, there are several apps, websites, and services that will allow you to help your loved one no matter how far apart you are. Whether there are health issues involved or you just want to give them assistance around the house, technology has ensured that it can be done. Think about the best ways to help your loved one thrive, then read on for the best tips on how to get started and where to find the best services.

Health-related

Making sure your loved one stays in good health is a priority, but it’s not always easy when you live in a different city or state. Now, they can download an app on their smartphone to help them keep track of their blood pressure; it even allows them to record notes about what they had to eat or drink that day, their weight, and their resting blood pressure. The app uses the phone’s camera to record the pulse in their finger for a readout.

You can also invest in a Fitbit, which is worn on the wrist like a watch and tracks several different bodily functions, including steps taken over the course of the day.

For brain health

Keeping the brain active is vital for seniors, especially those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or are at risk for it. Playing brain games on a tablet or smartphone can help boost memory and keep brain cells active and healthy.

For seniors who have trouble remembering the little things–like where they parked in a large parking lot–there’s an app that will help them out every time they leave the house. Park And Forget is specially made for people who can’t keep track of the area they left their car in when they go to big places like the mall.

For ease of everyday activities

For seniors who have trouble reading small print even with glasses, there’s an app called Eyereader that enlarges the text in a book or magazine and lights it up through the phone screen. Used like a magnifying glass, this app prevents eye strain and helps seniors have more independence.

Pillboxie is another great app for seniors; it’s a reminder tool that helps the user remember to take their medication. This is perfect for seniors who have a lot of medicine to keep up with, especially if there are some that have to be taken at different times of the day.

Apps aren’t the only way you can help your senior loved one; you can also take advantage of services online, such as Rover.com, which allows you to set up a dog walker to come and take care of their pet. Although many seniors enjoy getting out and exercising with their dogs, some have limited mobility and can’t always do it safely. Hiring a dog-walker ensures that your loved one won’t have to choose between endangering their health or keeping their pet from going on its daily walk.

With so many apps and services to choose from, it can get a little overwhelming. Try not to stress; simply help your loved one set up the ones they want to try and show them how to get started. Once they’ve gone through the steps a few times, it will become much easier, and you can rest assured that they are in good hands even if you can’t be with them all the time.

Author: Marie Villeza (Author: ElderImpact.org)