What’s In Your Parent’s Wallet?

What’s In Your Parent’s Wallet?

Ryan:
Hello everybody, my name is Ryan McEniff and I’m joined here with Janet. You are listening to The Caregiver’s Toolbox, tools for everyday caregiving, and we go over a wide variety of helpful tips and useful information in regards with older adults and caregiving services. And today, in episode eight, we’re going to be talking about what’s in your parent’s wallet. What happens when somebody gets older, they’re needing assistance and what do you need to make sure is in there and what do you need to make sure is out of there.

How are you Janet?

Janet:
I am doing well. It’s the beginning of the year, we’re off to a good start, and hopefully we’ll have some, a lot of good ideas this year of things to share with people.

Ryan:
Absolutely, so let’s get right into it. What’s in your parent’s wallet? Where do we start with this whole thing of parent’s wallets?

What’s In Your Parent’s Wallet?

Janet:
Well, what happens with … I’ve had a lot of experience, both in home care and assisted living, and a variety of places with the elderly and their wallets. Some people are neat and organized and fine, some people are pack rats and always have been. But if someone is starting to get forgetful, maybe there’s some dementia or not, and they feel they’re totally independent, and they can handle this all, but you don’t know what’s in there, and you don’t know what the vulnerabilities are. It really is good to know. I can have a fairly good sense of what’s going on with my parents because they live downstairs from me. Your dad lives-

Ryan:
1,500 miles away.

Janet:
… So knowing what’s going on, you know, you want them to have their independence but you want to keep an eye on what’s happening.

Ryan:
And I think the difference between your parents and mine, is my dad, even though I own my own business, probably is trying to, why does he want to know what’s in my wallet, what is, what money does he want to take from me?

Find Out Whats In Your Parent’s Wallet

Janet:
Exactly. Exactly, and it’s something that is very personal and it’s something that’s very private, and you have to tread carefully with the subject. The best thing to do is to literally find out what’s in the wallet, and two strategies that I was taught is if the circumstances allow, be up front and say, “You know what, I need to clean out my wallet too. Why don’t we just put the stuff on the table and have a cup of coffee and throw out receipts and see what’s there.” Sometimes that’ll work. Other times uh-uh (negative), no way, it’s Fort Knox, and you almost have to take a peek when they’re taking a nap.

Ryan:
Covert operations.

Janet:
Covert operations, and I think this is especially difficult with men because they don’t carry a purse that they put on the table, they probably got the wallet in their back pocket, and unless you’re really good at being a pickpocketer, that can be more of a challenge. So it’s like, I don’t know, you help him, he takes his trousers off and you say, “Oh I spilled something on them, let me take it out in the kitchen.” And take a quick peek. You know, maybe something like that.

What Should You Look For In Your Parent’s Wallet?

Ryan:
What are we looking to find in somebody’s wallet? What are the big things that you think you want people to know about?

Janet:
The number one thing is, are they carrying a lot of cash? We all know people are, especially elderly, are very vulnerable out in public to be pick pocketed, and if they’re carrying a lot of cash, that’s just gone. There is a number of people that still want to take the Social Security check to the bank, and there are people that will just wait for them to come out of the bank, because they cashed the whole thing instead of just depositing it. So you’re looking for cash, and do they need to have that much cash? Maybe you need to have a chat about it. You know, we’re dealing with a generation, in terms of the elderly now, they didn’t live with debit cards. They come from a generation that in many cases they never used a credit card. So the idea of taking any money out of their wallet is a big deal.

Ryan:
My dad thinks it’s unconscionable not to leave the house without at least sixty to a one hundred dollars in your back pocket, and I’m like, maybe if I got a five or a ten in here, because everything’s used with credit cards and debit cards now.

Janet:
And I always have a 20 so I have a tank of gas.

Ryan:
Yeah, it’s really not … But to a point as well, we had a case years ago, and I think it was before I even bought the company from my aunt that we had a demented person that was trying to hand out cash to random strangers on the street just because she thought, you know, she was wealthy and she wanted to be nice and blah-blah-blah, but you can’t do that, that’s just asking to get mugged or robbed, so.

Janet:
Absolutely. Absolutely, and then when it’s gone they’re panicking because it’s gone, and where do they get more money? And in addition to what’s in the wallet, people that do carry a lot of cash, oftentimes hide it in the house as well. So you need to just keep that in mind. I helped someone move things out of their parent’s house when their father died, and we found money in the hems of the curtains, taped to the underside of rug, a couple hundred dollars underneath the ice cube tray in the freezer. So I mean, you just don’t know sometimes.

Ryan:
That sounds like my mother playing Monopoly, hides the money everywhere, so when you think she’s bankrupt, here’s another thousand coming out from under the rug.

Janet:
I always kept the 500 under the board.

The cash is probably the first really obvious thing. Other things are credit cards, and if they’re driving, should they be driving? That’s a conversation for another day, but if they have a driver’s license, credit cards, are they expired? Are they valid?

Specific Cards In Your Parent’s Wallet

Ryan:
Are they about to be expired?

Janet:
Are they about to be expired? Are they maxed, and they think they’re okay and they’re going to take it to the store and it’s not going to fly. So to know what’s there, and it is a very vulnerable population, and people, a lot of people think that the rest of the world is a nice place. I walked into a home one day, and a lovely lady was on the phone, an elderly woman, and asked me if I would reach for her wallet so she could give the nice man on the phone her credit card number. When I picked up the phone for her and said, “Can I help you?” It was an immediate hang up. Now this poor lady honestly thought she won the Publisher’s Clearing House, she had the vase on the table, she was waiting for the flowers and the guy that comes to the house. So when you get someone like that that’s living alone and has their own wallet, you want to know what’s going on.

Also, if there’s things like medical cards. Are they dog-eared and you can’t read them or they’ve refolded them so many times you can’t read the numbers? Do they just need to be updated and replaced? Those are the things that you’re kind of looking for.

Ryan:
Yeah, and to make life simpler in my opinion, when you’re dealing especially with credit cards and debit cards, you know, a lot of people have different cards for different reasons, different mileage points, whatever they’re trying to accumulate, but when you get up there in age, I think it’s simpler just to have one credit card. That way there’s only one bill to be paying at the end of each month, there’s only one website that you need to go to to monitor any activities and things like that. I would even get rid of the debit card unless cash is really needing to be involved, just because you have so more protections on the credit card side than the debit card side. For example, that old lady that was going to give her credit card over on the phone, at least if you are a family member and you found out about that, you could claim that as fraud, and you haven’t had your whole bank account wiped out, it’s somebody else’s money that’s getting spent. So that’s just something to keep in mind for listeners that it might be easier on the family caregiver to just limit the credit cards to one with a $10,000 limit or a 5,000 or whatever the limit needs to be, and then you only have to keep track of one thing in the wallet rather than multiple credit cards and multiple debit cards.

Janet:
Yeah, and some people keep coupons for the supermarket, they are for products that don’t exist anymore. Or for pet food, and they don’t have a pet anymore, or you know, something that’s good to a restaurant that doesn’t exist anymore, so you may want to encourage them to try and purge some of those things out. Also, there’s some people that get loyalty cards, these membership cards, and they don’t use those anymore, but that’s not something that you necessarily want to just toss, right? I mean, you can speak to the, you know, how to cancel some of these cards, or what you need to watch for better than I probably could. But I know some things you don’t just want to throw out, you want to make sure that you’ve discontinued the service, right?

Canceling Credit Cards in Your Parent’s Wallet

Ryan:
Absolutely, I mean, whenever you’re canceling a credit card, and most credit card companies are fine with it, but you just want to ensure that they’ve canceled the account and that it’s not going to be charged anymore. You know, whether it’s these, the medical cards, medicare cards, there’s a couple places that you can go, and we’ll leave them in the links because the website addresses are too long to try to spell out, but there’s the medicare plan finder that you can make sure the current plan is working, you can get rid of cards, and also you can look at medicare matters at different insurance plans, and it’s helpful for caregivers, so those will two sites you can look at.

That’s why I go back to just what these loyalty cards, or this or that. If you can consolidate it down to one or maybe two cards that are getting used, that way as a family caregiver you’re not spending half an hour each week looking up. You can have notifications sent to your phone when something gets charged or anything like that. I mean that’s how I would go about it, and with these loyalty cards, you just want to make sure that there’s no annual charge on them, there’s no $99 charge for leaving it open, or whatever it might be [crosstalk 00:09:59], or it gets re-upped every single year.

Additionally, you have cards out there like, not that a lot of seniors would have this, but some I’m sure do, where they get rewards card, like you know, $50 Amex card or a $50 card to their favorite restaurant. Make sure those are getting used as well because a lot of those cards will have in their contract that if this card hasn’t been used in 12 months, they start taking a $5 a month service charge fee away from the balance of it because they say it cost them money to keep it open.

Janet:
Good point.

Gift Cards in Your Parent’s Wallet

Ryan:
Those are all things you want to look at in the wallet and make sure that if mom or dad loves going to a specific restaurant, by all means, but just make sure they’re going through those cards in there and they’re using them right.

And then finally, kind of finishing off, what to do with all these cards, and in the end, it’s really replacing them, repairing anything that’s getting dog-eared like you said. Or destroying what needs to be destroyed and needs to be cancelled, wouldn’t you say?

Janet:
Yes, and one other thing that I would just mention because it’s kind of touching, I’ve gone through this several times, if you have folks that are in say, an assisted living, specially in a memory care unit. They still have their wallet, and if their wallet’s not there, they become very anxious and agitated. You need to be careful of what’s in their wallet. You could put a lot of fake things in a wallet. You can take one of their pictures and put it on something that looks like a driver’s license. You can put, there’s some very good looking play money that’s in there, and I’ve noticed on more than occasion where a new resident moved in to a dementia unit, and when they went to the dining room, they wouldn’t order their meal, and it’s because they didn’t have money in their wallet to pay for it. And they didn’t understand that it was part of the deal.

Ryan:
Yup.

Janet:
And at the same time someone can go into someone else’s residence and take their wallet, so you want to make sure it’s not something that you’re going to have a nightmare trying to find out whose room it’s now living in.

Ryan:
Yeah. Absolutely, and I mean, being in the private home care sector of senior care, we always try to get people to get rid of their cash, because cash isn’t traceable, and when you’re in the middle of two people, one’s saying one stole, one’s saying they gave it to me, or one’s saying that I never received any cash, it’s just a nightmare. While when you use a debit card or ideally a credit card, it’s all there going to be there on paper, and you’re going to be able to see what was charged and what wasn’t, rather than having a house full of money randomly hidden throughout it, and you find out there’s 10 grand in the house that you didn’t even know about. Those are the things you want to try to avoid, so.

Janet:
Absolutely.

Wrapping Up: What’s In Your Parent’s Wallet?

Ryan:
That wraps up episode eight of What’s in Your Parent’s Wallet? Please feel free to reach out to us, or to comment below or to reach out as well to us on Twitter at @mwhomecare, and our episodes come out every Tuesday so you can expect to hear from us next Tuesday. Thanks again for listening.

2017-02-07T10:41:39+00:00January 24th, 2017|Categories: Podcast|