Helping aging parents with finances is often extremely challenging, and often the reason behind family controversies, increased emotions, and misconceptions. And for a good number of today’s older adults, who maintain a “Depression mentality” from years of saving for a rainy day and learning to “waste not, want not,” it is often hard for them to grant access to finances to adult children, as well as to acknowledge the necessity to spend some of those finances on caregiving needs.
Communicating with an older parent about finances is most effective when begun before the need occurs, appreciating it may take multiple conversations until an understanding can be achieved. These discussion starters can really help:
- “Dad, sooner or later, we have to make some decisions with regards to the future. Now may well be a good time to sit down together and go over your wishes with regard to finances, and to make sure we are able to comply with those wishes.”
- “Mom, I know you are managing your money just fine now, but what if something were to happen to your health that prevented you from paying your bills on time? It would be good to have a backup plan set up. Let’s sit down and develop one.”
- “Mom and Dad, you’ve always been so competent at managing your money and providing for us while we were little. We would like to make sure to continue that legacy, as well as to understand how best to help you both meet your monetary obligations in the event that the time comes that you need to have some advice about that.”
It’s also helpful to share real-life situations of a relative or neighbor who was victimized by identity theft, or a story from the media with regards to the ever-changing economy, stock market declines, changes to tax laws, etc. This may jumpstart a discussion about your aging parents’ own retirement plans and any financial fears for the future, allowing you to come to a mutually agreeable resolution, such as talking with a financial advisor together.
Most of all, make sure to maintain a feeling of respect, never trying to “take over” when helping aging parents with finances, but to supply the reassurance and peace of mind that their financial matters will continue to be managed effectively. Ask your parents for recommendations and include them in the decision-making process. Daniel Lash, certified financial planner at VLP Financial Advisors, advises, “Tell them what you’re thinking about doing so you give them the power to tell you what they think you should do. It’s like they’re giving you advice because that’s what parents are good at – giving advice.”
Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, providers of expert help at home in St. Joseph and the surrounding Michigan communities, offers an in-home consultation to help older adults as well as those who love them understand their choices for care, and to help mediate stressful conversations such as those linked to finances. Contact us at (269) 763-5350 in Paw Paw, (269) 849-9252 in St. Joseph, (269) 373-5444 in Kalamazoo or (269) 963-9888 in Battle Creek for suggestions.