The Snowball Effect – Finances & Aging

Yesterday afternoon, we received a call from a lovely woman asking for assistance with “her hallway of paper”.  An introductory visit was set for the very next day.

Not long after walking into her home, it was clear what the priority was for “Anne”.  TAXES.  Two days post tax deadline, a week post hospital discharge and a year since her tax preparer retired.   “Anne” was at a loss for how to get started.  Tax documentation, statements, receipts and handwritten notes for the past year in separate stacks lined her hallway floor.  There sat a woman, a PhD not to mention, who was struggling with mobility & recuperation which was clearly being exacerbated by the stress of taxes and money.  “Anne” was clearly one smart cookie that was trying to cope in a debilitating situation that had reached beyond a critical point.

In any search on “finances and aging”, there are volumes of information in terms of elder abuse/fraud or warnings/indicators of significant impairment or disease.  Yet, there is limited to no information on the individual’s ability to shoulder the general finances of household, Medicare and taxes over time that did not include the impact of the aforementioned factors.   Alarmingly, any type of economic behavioral data amongst older adults is poorly understood.  What is well established is that as we age, our cognitive ability to manage regular tasks, such as IRA distributions, tax preparation and account reconciliation diminish.

In “Anne’s” case, as with so many others, this is an uncomfortable topic that is easier put to the side.  Moreover, focus of physical health, not financial, is the primary litmus for assessing a loved one status – “Mom feels great so all is well!”  In any case, regular check ins on the comings and goings of budget, insurance and investments are paramount.

Once an individual begins to skip a payment, not file a receipt or overlook an account notification The Snowball Effect begins.   One utility doesn’t get paid, an insurance claim isn’t filed correctly, a mortgage/HOA/housing payment is missed….. tax day comes and goes.  Now, the health of their financial affairs are critical and will also have an adverse affect on their emotional, physical and psychological health.

Having the “bills & finance” conversation regularly with loved ones will surely create an air of openness and honesty.  Additionally, the use of outside help, such as a Daily Money Manager, Certified Financial Planner or Financial Concierge, can enable an individual to maintain control and dignity of “owning” their finances with the added assurance of professional review.


Senior Checks & Balances specializes in consultative financial assistance with the highest level of security and privacy.  


The Work of Retirement

Female Neighbor Helping Senior Woman To Complete Form

For many, the days of retirement represent freedom from “work” – meaning, the mundane responsibilities that don’t necessarily bring happiness & joy.  The moving parts of household management, personal finances and healthcare actually multiply as we all age.  Taking up more of our time and representing large stress triggers.  Counterproductive to a relaxing retirement.

  • Managing housekeepers, landscapers & paying utilities
  • Healthcare claims & Medicare enrollments
  • Organizing and evaluating mail/emails, statement, marketing and invoices

These are just a few elements that we all must manage during our senior years.

For example, December is a very busy month for Seniors and it’s not because of a busy holiday party schedule!  Medicare re-enrollments and end of year IRA distributions must be attended to or else.  Lay these stressful and critical activities on top of the rest of the business of managing home/lifestyle can leave anyone stressed and exhausted!  Enter Senior Checks & Balances – we are here to be your extra set of eyes or even manage it all for you.  It’s your retirement.

Senior Checks & Balances carries the chore of bills, insurance and household management so your days can be defined by the retirement you’ve earned.  With a customized plan that is directed by you, Senior Checks & Balances keeps your home and finances running like a well oiled machine.  The most important element – this is all accomplished without the transfer of any personal or account information.  To boot, Senior Checks & Balances is not nameless & faceless – we rely on regular face to face meetings with you to insure the business of your home & retirement is being managed to the greatest efficiency and transparency.

Your Home Is Your Business

The family home is something to be cherished.  Filled with memories, tradition and comfort, the home is a source of pride and identity for many in the senior community.

dreamstime_xxl_103701289As the technology and services of utilities & home maintenance evolve, the overall needs for those aging in place change over time as well.  Today, there are a host of in-home caregiving options within the healthcare spectrum.  Yet, the business of running and caring for your home & maintaining lifestyle as you or your loved ones age in place are few and far between.  Consider us your home & lifestyle caregivers.

There are so many moving parts to the every day management of household – groceries, cleaning, landscaping, utilities, auto care/transportation and on and on.  Are there other areas that are awaiting organization?  Does the management of health and insurance take up too much of your time?

Senior Checks & Balances prides itself on custom project plans for each of our clients.  Providing the security that insures your monthly budget is being met, initiating a “slim down” of household contents, managing the safe/secure disposal of documents, changes to accounts and healthcare information – we care for your home and lifestyle.

Senior Checks & Balances serves the Chicagoland area on a one-on-one basis in the privacy & security of your home and DOES NOT require the transfer of any personal information.  Complete security.  Call or email us today for a personal assessment.


Too much information

For many in the senior community, there is palpable fear that something will fall through the cracks resulting in financial penalties or the compromise of personal information.  Given the volume communications that the average person receives on a daily basis, anyone can become daunted by it all.  Sifting through account statements, monthly bills and marketing/solicitations takes a keen eye.  Now, remember that these communications are coming at us via snail mail, email and sometimes, on the phone.

Just this week, I had a regular visit with a client who was very concerned over a phone call she’d received to schedule an installation.  She had okay’d the date they offered over the phone but hung up a little bewildered.  Trying to put two and two together, she remembered a piece of mail that came from the village informing her that her water meter was to be replaced.  That must have been it.

I asked to see the both the notice for the water meter and then her phone to see the number that had called her.  A big red flag immediately went up and I made two phone calls.  A local carpet company had my client’s phone number in error and was calling to schedule a carpet installation.   This was not associated with the upcoming water meter installation.

Having an extra set of eyes to review the care and management of your home as you “age in place” creates security your loved one deserves at this juncture of their lives.  With monthly meetings to review mail, status of utilities/bills and plan for what lies ahead, the tornado of paper, mail and solicitations is far less daunting.

Senior Checks & Balances serves the senior community in the Greater Chicagoland area.  Contact us today to discuss how we can be of service to you and your loved ones.

It’s not just paying bills

While just a portion of Senior Checks & Balances’ relationship with our clients is insuring that bills are getting paid, the landscaper is hauling the leaves and you’re enrolled in the right prescription plan, the bedrock is lifting the stress of finance and home responsibilities.  With that, our role is exclusively what you need……

Email & Digital Account Monitoring – Is it a bill or is it a solicitation?  Or both?  Today’s marketers have become more and more savvy in order to capture our attention.  Senior Checks and Balances is here to not only review the snail mail, but the digital mail too!

Tax Returns & Account Statements– What do I keep and what do I toss?  Let’s evaluate the existing financial documentation in the home and dispose of it safely & appropriately.  This is especially vital for those individuals that are preparing for a move or those that have other service providers in and out of the house.

Medicare/Insurance – Enrollment deadlines are stress triggers.  Claims adjudication are stress triggers.  Senior Checks and Balances understands the in’s and out’s of today’s health insurance policies and practices – let us shoulder the stress of the process and more importantly, sit on hold for you.

Home Projects & Worker Management – Does your home need a fresh coat of paint?  Did the dishwasher hit the fritz?  Not only is Senior Checks & Balances ready to advise you on how to budget for these costs, we will vet & manage those contractors to insure efficiency and economy.

Household Budgeting – By establishing a clear understanding of the what bill is getting paid when, as well as evaluating the value of items like the cable bill or the landscaper, Senior Checks & Balances will create peace of mind that your retirement dollars are being managed & spent wisely.

Senior Checks & Balances serves the senior community in the Greater Chicagoland area.  Contact us today to discuss how we can be of service to you and your loved ones.


The Emergency Room

This past Sunday afternoon, my family was having a quiet day at home.  The kids were doing some crafts in the basement, me on my iPad and my husband watching college football.  Then, the phone rang.  Everything was immediately thrown into high gear and the day, the week, took on a completely different tone.

“…..37 pieces of paper outlining after care, recap of hospital care, cardiology instructions, primary care instructions, prescriptions, HIPPA docs, hospital marketing materials plus three separate visits from registration with mandated Medicare notifications requiring signature.”

My mother-in-law was heading to the Emergency Room.   Unrelenting palpitations, dizzy bordering on fainting and scared.  Scared for herself and scared for her husband, to whom she the sole caregiver.  As she scrambled to keep it together to get out the door with all the necessary personal items, insurance and medical information, she was already overwhelmed.

The following 24 hours resulted in a shock to the heart, a stress test and two echos for my mother-in-law.  For my father-in-law, it was simply a period of confusion.

The cherry on top was the 37 pieces of paper outlining after care, recap of hospital care, cardiology instructions, primary care instructions, prescriptions, HIPPA docs, hospital marketing materials plus three separate visits from registration with mandated Medicare notifications requiring her signature.  I don’t care how old you are, when you are on the receiving end of a speech about insurance rules and regulations followed by a demand for signature indicating you understand, your stress levels spike.

It played in my head over and over, “how does any senior get through a health event without support?”  My in-laws are lucky enough to have family that is local, as well as accessible – not all family members have the luxury of dropping everything for a 24 hour period of time however close they may be.

Everyone wishes that their loved one can concentrate on recuperation during a health event – not drown in the stress of finance, Medicare and claims.  Today, my mother-in-law is at home & focusing on her well being with the peace of mind that the mountain of paperwork is well in hand.  Nothing is going to fall through the cracks.

One of the many facets of Senior Checks & Balances’ role is to create peace of mind that the insurance process will be monitored and resolved efficiently.  With consistent one-on-one meetings and on-call availability, you can focus on recuperation – not claim submission.

Senior Checks & Balances serves the senior community in the Greater Chicagoland area.  Contact us today to discuss how we can be of service to you and your loved ones.