Taking with aging parents about finances is always a stressful experience. Anxiety often appears because of the difficulty of what has to be discussed. As the child of the senior, you do not want to create the belief that money management abilities are not good or the idea that health is becoming a problem. However, the unfortunate truth is that it is much more common to have to deal with emergencies when a person is older.
When you cannot pay the bills of your parents as they become ill, real problems appear. As a result, it is simply a lot better to talk to the aging parent about such topics. This is a conversation that should happen as the parent is independent. Never wait for the crisis to happen.
To make it easier for you, here are the most important things to remember about talking to aging parents about finances.
Always Be Honest!
If there is just one thing you will remember from this article, this is it:
It is always best to be completely honest with the aging parent.
Empathy and kindness are very important. You need to explain that you care and that you want to be 100% prepared in the unwanted event that help is needed. Some of the very common issues that should be discussed are:
- The existence of a will. You do not need to know what is written in it, but it is always easier when you at least know who the drafting attorney is.
- Is there a chosen person that was given power of attorney for making healthcare-related decisions?
- What are the financial institutions used? This should include discussions about online accounts, usernames and passwords, since they might have to be accessed if emergencies happen.
- The income coming from pensions, social security, and investments.
- How bills are paid.
- How taxes are handled.
The goal of the conversation is to basically gain all the knowledge you need to help the aging adult if something bad happens.
Other Things To Be Aware Of When Talking About Finances With Aging Parents
Honesty is definitely great, but you should also keep in mind the following.
Have A Talk With The Financial Planner Or Accountant Of Your Parents
This is a very good option in the event that you or the parent becomes uncomfortable with financial talks. A financial planner, attorney, or accountant can be contacted. However, the parent needs to offer permission if you want to review accounts and documents with the specialist.
When you go to a meeting with the accountant or financial planner, make sure you have a list with all the questions you want to ask. It is very easy to overlook things.
Discuss Identity Theft And Scams
As a person ages, he/she becomes a target for scammers. Financial scams and identity theft are constantly being reported and older adults do not really know much about them.
Have a talk with the parent so he/she knows what steps need to be taken for protection. Usually, this just means the senior needs to be more knowledgeable.
The good news is that many things can be done to protect elders from scams. For instance, you can register the phone number of your parent in the “do not call” registry. This is a very good option when a landline exists since several scammers use it for financial scams.
Do Not Have Just One Talk
One of the biggest mistakes you could make is to have a single conversation with your parent. This is something that is way more common than it should be.
Often, the parent will become uncomfortable. You can easily avoid this by having more talks and always stopping when someone wants to.
Another reason more conversations are needed is that it is very hard to talk about everything in a single sitting. You cannot have really long sessions, so spreading them off over a longer period of time is simply better for everyone involved. Also, in time, more problems will appear. The situation that was reality a couple of months ago can be very different in the future. Always have discussions whenever they are needed and do not postpone them.
Discussing Assisted Living
When a parent is lonely and isolated or the home is not safe, discussing assisted living is very important. The problem is often that children hesitate and do not even raise the topic. Do not do this whenever it is a possible option that can keep your aging parent safe.
Some great tips to help you handle such a difficult conversation include:
- Highlight Advantages – Do not focus on the negatives of assisted living for the aging parent. Stay focused on advantages and make sure the conversation is positive.
- Recruit Siblings – It is always a lot easier to talk with parents if all siblings agree and help.
- Visit Facilities – Do not choose the assisted living facility without any input from your parents. This helps relieve many of the fears that appear and puts focus on the advantages you want to highlight.
- Get Help From The Family Doctor – Discuss supported living with the family doctor and see if he agrees to help convince the parent about needing professional help.
- Never Act As The Decision Was Already Made – The parent should be approached about this possibility with care. Do not act like you already made the choice for mom or dad.
- Carefully Choose Good Phrasing – It always sounds a lot better when you use words like “community” instead of “nursing home”. Stay calm and stay pleasant in tone. Also, you should never sound condescending.
Talking with aging parents about finances is not easy. You will feel conflicted and there is a pretty good possibility you will be met with some degree of hostility. But it is absolutely mandatory.
Remember that at the end of the day, you have the best interest of the parent in mind. And aging is something nobody really loves. You will need a lot of patience and it can be very difficult to maintain positivity during conversations. But you can do it if you prepare and you are informed about every single topic you will discuss.