Helping older people with debt

Debt is on the rise among those aged 65+ and is a big cause of stress, taking a toll on people’s physical and mental health.


If a person retires and begins receiving a pension, the new lower income may be a bit of a shock. It can take some time to adjust, as they were used to getting a higher wage when they were working.

Debt can also accumulate if a spouse passes away, leaving them to take care of most, if not all, of the finances themselves.

If a partner or husband/wife does die, they can also be left with the funeral costs as well. They may have suffered ill-health before their passing, so there may also be outstanding care costs to consider.

If you have an elderly loved-one who is struggling, here is some advice on how you can recognise the signs and help out.

Recognising the signs of debt

It’s difficult to tell if someone is having debt problems, as it’s often an issue they will hide due to embarrassment.

There are small signs you can look out for. Is there a pile of unopened, official looking letters placed somewhere? These could be unpaid bills.

Is your loved-one trying to sell treasure possessions?

Are they buying things that you think they might not be able to afford on their income?

Have they recently started avoiding activities that involve spending money?

How you can help

If you think your loved-one is having money issues, the first and best thing to do is talk to them. Have an honest conversation with them, but make sure you’re non-judgemental.

Check that they haven’t been a victim of scams. Older people are much more vulnerable to online and doorstep scams. You can check out our blog post full of advice on avoiding these scams here.

Help them create a budget if they’re finding things difficult. Go over their expenses, what they have coming in and going out. Ensure they are claiming all of the benefits they’re entitled to, to help reduce outgoings. Do they qualify for the winter fuel allowance for example?

If you need to, get help from a professional. Debt management companies and debt advisors specialise in this issue and can really help.

The Welsh government has lots of help and advice available here.