|Daily money managers for the average
Matson, a retired elementary school teacher, became a daily money
manager two years ago after helping family members sort out their
personal finances. She charges $40 an hour, and spends, on average,
one or two hours per month with her mostly elderly clients in their
In addition to the labyrinth of Medicare, Medicaid and private
insurance bills to sort through, Matson spends a good deal of time
explaining statements to her clients.
"Things have gotten so complicated financially, with the way
that financial statements come through," she says. "I
help people check their medical bills and make sure they are getting
Matson is careful to maintain her role as adviser and will not
become a signer on her clients' accounts. Liability insurance, she
notes, is very pricey for daily money managers.
"My clients actually sign their checks, or in
some cases I work with their relative who has durable power of attorney.
I don't want to have fiduciary powers," she says.
Aging in place
When money is only part of the aging issue, a more holistic approach
may be called for. That's when a more specialized version of daily
money manager known as a geriatric care manager, or GCM, can help.
"The distinction for GCMs is their goal to help
people remain independent for as long as possible," says Patricia
Morris, a GCM in Newton, Mass. "It takes knowledge of aging
issues. It's a very different focus."
Morris became a GCM two and a half years ago. She
holds a law degree, a master's degree in counseling and is a certified
financial planner. She charges $60 an hour for a range of services,
including financial counseling.
Geriatric care managers often come out of a health
care or elder services background and can make recommendations on
elder care and aging-in-place issues, in addition to providing money
Families typically call on Morris for help when an
elderly parent or relative has inadvertently caused a financial
"When they write checks more than once for the
same bill or they don't write checks at all, that's a sign,"
she says. "And medical bills can be a real problem, especially
when one spouse is trying to take care of the other."
A geriatric care manager is often the individual's
last hope for financial independence before a family member steps
in or a court-ordered conservator is appointed to tend to their
affairs. If the Social Security Administration deems it necessary,
it will appoint a representative payee to receive the benefit checks
on behalf of the individual and manage that portion of a person's
assets. The Veteran's Administration similarly may appoint a federal
fiduciary to manage an individual's pension if the veteran is unable
to do so.
Money management assistance is available free of charge
to low-income seniors through the AARP-sponsored money management
program, which gives volunteers the software tools and supervision
to help with routine tasks. Consult your state Agency on Aging or
for more information.