When we’re children, our parents cover all our needs. They also strive to teach us things we’ll need to know throughout our lives. Those could include tying our shoes, making sure our clothes match, understanding the value of healthy foods, and many other matters. Of course, our parents take care of our financial needs as well. When we’re younger, they generally handle our money for us. As we grow older, they begin to teach us the value of a dollar and how to manage finances.
When we’re adults and our parents are aging, those roles may end up being reversed. At that point, it’s up to us to look out for our parents and keep their best interests at heart. For many people, that means making sure mom and dad’s finances are in order and their needs are met. Discussing aging parents’ finances with them isn’t quite as easy as having a conversation with them about our financial situations. Approaching the matter in just the right way can make it a bit easier.
Getting the Conversation Started
Actually starting a conversation about finances with mom and dad is often the most difficult part of the entire process. In many cases, parents simply freeze out their adult children the moment they bring up spending habits, savings accounts, senior living communities, and other subjects that pertain to retirement. As such, it may be necessary to use a delicate touch when trying to discuss these topics.
Consider gently asking mom and dad if they’ve thought about their retirement years. They may be more open to discussing retirement in the general sense. Once they’ve mentioned some of their grand plans for the future, you may be able to ease them into the financial aspects. From there, you can gradually hone in on the more in-depth questions.
From another perspective, you could sit down with them and explain that you’re worried about their future and finances. Ask them if they’ve been making preparations. Do they have savings, pensions, insurance coverage, and other financial reinforcements? Have they considered selling their house and transitioning to senior community living or do they plan to age in place?
Be sure to plan ahead for the conversation. Make a list of questions and concerns you’d like to go over with mom and dad. You may have to cover only one or two questions at a time if they’re not comfortable with this type of discussion. Still, having a clear plan in place will make it easier for everyone involved.
Forging Ahead with the Discussion
Once you’ve gracefully maneuvered into a financial conversation with your aging parents, they may speak more freely. Be sure to listen to their thoughts, plans, and wishes. While most of us are at least somewhat concerned about the potential financial impact of our aging parents’ needs, this is really about them. Let them talk about their travel plans or ways they’d like to spend their free time. Allow them to discuss any measures they’ve taken to cover upcoming expenses.
Some people are pleasantly surprised to find that their parents have all the bases covered. That’s usually not quite the case, though. For most people, there are still gaps that need to be bridged. If you find that to be true, remain calm and patient.
Rather than insisting that mom and dad take care of those loose ends immediately, offer to help them do so. If they don’t have long-term care insurance but are likely to need it, offer to help them find affordable coverage. If they’re spending money faster than they expected, offer to help them create a budget or get a financial advisor or counselor involved.
Talk to your parents about their medical needs as well. If they’re living with any serious or chronic health issues, venture beyond the financial aspect. Ask them what type of care they’d like to receive and where their treatment limits might be. In the event mom or dad is exhibiting signs of dementia, discuss the prospect of memory care for seniors.
Those are only a few of the details that may need to be covered. Each family is unique. Consider the factors that are relevant to your parents and other family members when planning for a conversation like this.
Taking Care of Elderly Parents’ Needs
Summerfield of Redlands is here to help meet the diverse needs of families. We offer both short- and long-term assisted living as well as respite and memory care. Our team of knowledgeable and dedicated caregivers ensures our residents are active, healthy, and happy.