Helping elderly parents with finances can be challenging for a variety of reasons. And for a large number of today’s older adults, who maintain a “Depression mentality” from many years of saving for a rainy day and learning to “waste not, want not,” it may be difficult for them to share access to finances with adult children, as well as to recognize the necessity to spend some of those finances on caregiving needs.
Talking with an aging parent about finances is most effective when started before the need occurs, recognizing it may take a few conversations before an understanding can be reached. These conversation starters can really help:
- “Dad, sooner or later, we’re going to need to make some decisions about the future. Now may be a good time to sit down together and examine your wishes and the financial side of making sure we are able to adhere to those wishes.”
- “Mom, I know you’re managing your finances just fine now, but what if something were to happen to your health that stopped you from paying your bills on time? It might be beneficial to have a backup plan established. Let’s sit down and develop one.”
- “Mom and Dad, you’ve always been so good at handling your finances and providing for us while we were little. We want to be sure to carry on that legacy, and to know how best to help you both meet your financial obligations in case the time comes that you might want some help with that.”
It can also be useful to share real-life examples of a relative or neighbor who was victimized by identity theft, or a story from the news regarding the changing economy, stock market drops, changes to tax laws, etc. This will likely jumpstart a discussion regarding your aging parents’ own retirement plans and any financial fears for the future, allowing you to arrive at a mutually agreeable resolution, like speaking with a financial advisor together.
Most of all, make sure to uphold a feeling of respect, never seeking to “take over” your parents’ finances, but to provide the reassurance and peace of mind that their financial matters will continue to be managed effectively. Ask your parents for guidance 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.”
Midnight Sun Home Care, the Mat Su home health care experts, offers an in-home consultation that can help older adults plus those who love them to know their choices for care, and to help mediate difficult conversations such as those associated with finances. Reach out to us at (907) 677-7890 for help and support.