Credit Card Debt

My retired uncle now seems to have five or six credit cards and seems to be using them all and getting into debt. I don’t know what’s going on and I don’t know how to handle it. Please help, Doctor Marion.

Kumar in Quebec, Canada
Dear Kumar,

This is actually quite common these days. Many of my clients have spent a lifetime being frugal and saving for retirement. They’ve also paid cash for most of their purchases in the past, but now they’re finding there isn’t enough money at the end of each month. It isn’t as if they’re buying outrageous luxury items. Millions of elders are using easy-to-get credit cards to pay for groceries, or prescriptions, or a grandchild’s birthday gift.

Credit cards serve a purpose but they have to be used wisely. Credit card debt increases anxiety and stress for both the elder and the caregiver. Do all you can to help your uncle get out of this dangerous trap. Ask him directly about his exact credit card situation and see to it that any debts are paid off as soon as possible. When that is accomplished, cut the credit cards into pieces.

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