A distressed looking old couple seated on a sofa.

What to do When an Elderly Parent Runs Out of Money

As our parents age, they face various challenges, and one of the most distressing is the possibility of running out of money. It’s an unfortunate reality that many elderly parents may encounter, especially with rising healthcare costs and unpredictable economic conditions. 

As responsible and caring children, it becomes our duty to support and guide them during this difficult time. 

In this blog, we will explore practical steps to take when an elderly parent runs out of money, helping them navigate financial difficulties while ensuring their dignity and well-being are preserved.

Assess the Situation

The first step is to calmly and objectively assess the financial situation of your elderly parent. Sit down together and go through their income sources, expenses, assets, and debts. This evaluation will give you a clear picture of where they stand financially and what options might be available. Based on this information, you can devise a financial plan that will be most suitable for your parents.

Seek Professional Financial Advice

If you’re uncertain about how to proceed, don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of a professional financial advisor specializing in elder care. They can offer invaluable advice tailored to your parent’s specific situation and help explore potential solutions or government assistance programs that may be available.

Create a Budget

With a clear understanding of your parent’s financial situation, work together to create a realistic budget. Prioritize essential expenses like housing, healthcare, and basic needs. Cutting unnecessary costs can significantly extend their funds and provide a sense of control over their financial situation.

Investigate Government Assistance Programs

Look into government programs that might be able to provide some assistance. Medicare and Medicaid are good starting points – Medicare covers medical costs for folks over 65, and Medicaid helps those with low incomes. 

Additionally, there are plenty of state and county programs designed specifically to support the elderly. From help with housing to extra income, these programs can make a big difference. 

You can also check out your regional Area Agency on Aging – they offer essential services like home care, food delivery, check-ins, and transportation. Eligibility criteria for these programs may vary, but these programs can be instrumental in easing financial burdens. 

Explore Long-Term Care Insurance

If your parent has long-term care insurance, it could potentially cover some of the expenses associated with assisted living or nursing home care. Review the policy details to understand its scope and whether it can alleviate financial strain.

Consider Downsizing

Downsizing can be an emotional decision, but it’s often a practical step when dealing with financial difficulties. If your parents live in a large house, moving to a smaller, more affordable home or a retirement community might help reduce living expenses and maintenance costs.

Explore Supplemental Income Opportunities

Explore part-time job opportunities or freelancing work that your elderly parent can manage, depending on their health and abilities. Not only can this provide extra income, but it can also boost their self-esteem and sense of purpose. A study by Prudential found those over the age of 55 are the most successful gig workers, one-third of which include retirees.

Involve Family Members

Financial responsibilities should not solely fall on one person’s shoulders. Engage other family members to contribute to the financial support of your elderly parents. Pooling resources can make a significant difference and reduce individual burdens.

Address Healthcare Expenses Strategically

Healthcare costs can be a major concern for elderly individuals. Research affordable healthcare options, prescription assistance programs, and negotiate medical bills whenever possible. A healthcare advocate may be able to assist in navigating the complexities of healthcare-related finances.

Prevent Financial Exploitation

When facing financial difficulties, elderly parents may be vulnerable to scams or financial exploitation. Educate them about potential risks and help monitor their financial activities to ensure they are not taken advantage of during this vulnerable time.


Discovering that an elderly parent has run out of money can be a challenging and emotional experience. However, with careful planning, open communication, and practical steps, it is possible to navigate this difficult situation. 

Remember that the well-being and dignity of your elderly parent should remain a priority throughout the process. Seek professional advice, explore government assistance programs, and consider downsizing or supplemental income opportunities. 

By working together and supporting each other, we can provide the care and support our parents need during their golden years.