Even though my mother-in-law is in her late 80s, she's fiercely independent in all she does. It wasn't until taking over some of the bookkeeping for a family business, however, that I realized her diminishing eyesight had been causing her to make basic bookkeeping errors.
As our parents age, it's hard for them to accept that they may need a little help in managing their everyday finances. Here are four ways that I've been able to help Mom without taking away her independence.
Low vision register. One big problem was Mom's inability to read her checkbook register. A simple solution was to download a oversized check register template. A large register made it possible for her to read her own writing again while giving her plenty of room for balancing her checkbook. Free oversized check registers are tough to find; I did locate one free downloadable template at Viewfinder.com.
Big button calculator. Another useful tool we found for Mom was a big button calculator to help in balancing her checkbook. These calculators are fantastic for seniors who have difficultly with vision and are especially useful for those with arthritis. Big button calculators are found at most office supply stores and start at $15.
A magnifying lamp. Mom was also struggling with reading her bills and her bank statements. We found a magnifying lamp which enlarged the text enough so that she could even make out the fine print. Magnifying lamps are found at most craft and sewing stores, starting at $70 for a clamp lamp style.
Help with reconciling. Reconciling is complicated enough for most people, but especially aging parents who have trouble understanding electronic transactions, hidden fees, and chargebacks. Ever since taking over the company books, I've been helping Mom reconcile her checkbook as well which saves her the hassle of trying to decipher fourteen pages of banking information. It also gives me a good idea of how well she's managing her money.
These four simple strategies was all it took to put Mom back on track with managing her checkbook. Larger registers and vision aids make the task of reading the fine print easier for her; knowing that I'm double checking for mistakes gives the both of us peace of mind.
*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.More by this contributor: Sloppy grocery shopping habits that will cost you money.