April 21, 2020
Discussing senior finances is often taboo, and the reason behind a variety of disputes, heightened emotions, and misconceptions. And for a good number of today’s older adults, who maintain a “Depression mentality” from decades of saving for a rainy day and learning to “waste not, want not,” it may be hard for them to grant access to personal finances to adult children, and also to acknowledge the need to spend some of those personal finances on caregiving needs.
Talking with an older loved one about finances is most effective when started before the need occurs, appreciating it may take numerous conversations until an agreement can be reached. These conversation starters can help:
- “Dad, sooner or later, we have to make some decisions regarding the future. Now may well be a great time to go over your wishes together, and to review the finances to make sure we can comply with those wishes.”
- “Mom, I know you are managing your finances just fine now, but what if something were to happen to your overall health that stopped you from paying your bills on time? It might be beneficial to have a backup plan in position. Let’s sit down and create one.”
- “Mom and Dad, you’ve always been so competent at handling your finances and providing for us while we were little. We would like to make sure to continue that legacy, and to know how best to help the two of you meet your financial obligations in the event that the time comes that you might want some assistance with that.”
It’s also important to share real-life examples of a friend or neighbor who was victimized by identity theft, or a story from the news about the ever-changing economy, stock exchange drops, modifications to tax laws, etc. This will probably trigger a conversation 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 speaking with a financial advisor together.
Most of all, make sure to uphold a sense of respect, never trying to “take over” your parents’ finances, but to provide the reassurance and peace of mind that their financial matters will still be managed effectively. Ask your parents for advice, including 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.”
Continuum offers trusted help at home in St. Louis and the surrounding communities. Schedule an in-home consultation to learn how we can help older adults, together with those who love them, understand their options for care, and to help mediate difficult conversations such as those associated with finances. Contact us at (314) 863-9912 for more information.