Talking to Your Elderly Parents About Credit Card Debt

How Do You Know When it’s Time to Intervene in Your Parents Finances?

There really is no specific and clear answer to this question. Finances are a delicate topic. And for your parents who handled finances, potential debt, and caring for you as you grew up, it can be an embarrassing topic. You just have to make sure the you approach this matter without judgment, especially discussing credit card debt.

You know your parents best, and you should decide when is the best time to start the talk about finances. Sometimes is may be easier if there is a way to transition into the conversation as opposed to just coming in one day and jumping to it. On the other hand, some of your parents may actually appreciate it more if you don’t slowly bring up the topic.

In the end you have to decide what works best, but also don’t assume this will be particularly easy. Imagine that you may be in their shoes one day and think about how you want to be treated. Even if you think that you won’t because you are preparing well, remember that they probably didn’t envision a future where they were in debt and struggling financially either. No one generally leads their life assuming they will end up in their elderly years in debt.

What to Know About Elderly Credit Card Debt

What you should remember, though, is that just because it is embarrassing doesn’t mean you should skirt around the topic. Many aging seniors have some trouble with their finances, and many more have credit card debt.

It’s often hard to imagine how our parents can even get into a situation where they are in debt or struggling with finances. But, the reality is that there are many ways. The leading cause would be medical bills that get unpaid over time. Adding that to small amounts of credit card debt over time can add up. And it can even be that they decided to pay for those medical bills by applying for a card with a credit card company.

The Tips on Getting Elderly Parents Out of Debt

1. Local and Local Government Help Many people don’t know that there are government programs (on local levels) and debt management programs that can assist in debt relief. On the other hand, there are small organizations in many communities, including senior centers that are willing to help with things like bills and meals.

2. Help With What You Can If you have some extra resources, you can aid your parents in their debt. Just be sure that you aren’t placing a burden on yourself that could put you in the same position. If you find you want to take over their finances, or help make decisions, look more into power of attorney authorization. This way you can make decisions on your parents’ behalf if this is a right fit for your scenario

3. Get Someone That Can Help  If you can’t do it on your own, there are people that deal with finances and budgets on a daily basis. They could be exactly what you need to help your parents. Again, you can potentially find free resources here, though not always. Others, who know more about financial matters can also help adjust things like credit card interest rates or recommend you to a credit counseling agency. Other professionals may be better suited to work with the credit card issuer.

Why Credit Card Debt is Important to You

You have an invested stake in your parents’ well-being, otherwise you wouldn’t be looking into how to help them with credit card debt and finances.

But more importantly, you want to see your parents live fruitful senior years. Things like debt and finances can cause massive amounts of anxiety and stress for your parents, which you want to avoid. Racking up debt can severely affect their credit score. And in that case, it may make it harder to apply for certain things in the future.

Though, this may be taking a toll on you as well. In that case, know there are programs in place for when you feel like you can’t handle the care for your parent.

The Ways to Manage Costs of Caring for an Aging Parent and Their Debt

One of the best things you can do is look at the resources available to the elder community. If you have found that you are struggling financially because you are trying to take care of your parent on your own, you also have options.

There are programs in place to allow that care for your parent to be paid for through a program called the Community Care Program. You can become a formal caregiver for your parent through this program depending on a couple of factors. This can give you the opportunity to focus on working with them daily. This will give you insight into their daily lives and how they may be managing their debt.

Otherwise, you may find that the addition of an outside caregiver alleviates the anxiety and stress surrounding your parents’ debt. And it may allow both you and them to focus on a plan to tackle it.


When it comes to your parents, you obviously want the best for them. When it comes to your elderly parents’ credit card debt, you want to help them through their struggle. Know that you are not alone in this very common situation and that many have navigated this process before you. You have options in how you want to help.

If you want to find out more about Homecare Powered by AUAF and our mission give us a call at 773.274.9262.

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