April 21, 2020 by Dean Bellefeuille
Senior finance conversations can lead to a variety of arguments, heightened emotions, and misunderstandings. And for many of today’s seniors, who maintain a “Depression mentality” from years of saving for a rainy day and learning to “waste not, want not,” it can be hard for them to share access to finances with adult children, and to accept the need to spend some of those finances on caregiving needs.
Talking with an aging parent about finances is most effective when started before the need arises, understanding it may take several conversations before an agreement can be reached. These conversation starters can help:
- “Dad, in time, we’re going to need to make some decisions about the future. Now might be a good time to sit down together and go over your wishes and the financial side of making sure we can abide by those wishes.”
- “Mom, I know you’re managing your finances 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 in place. Let’s sit down and come up with one.”
- “Mom and Dad, you’ve always been so good at managing your finances and providing for us while we were growing up. We want to be sure to continue that legacy, and to understand how best to help you both meet your financial obligations if the time comes that you need some assistance with that.”
It can also be helpful to share real-life scenarios of a friend or neighbor who was victimized by identity theft, or a story from the news about the changing economy, stock market drops, changes to tax laws, etc. This can 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 importantly, be sure to maintain a sense of respect, never attempting 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 advice and include them in the decision-making process. Daniel Lash, certified financial planner at VLP Financial Advisors, suggests, “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.”
At Home Independent Living, the top providers of home care in Syracuse, NY and the surrounding areas, offers a free in-home consultation to help older adults and the families who love them understand their options for care, and to help mediate difficult conversations such as those related to senior finance concerns. Contact us at (315) 579-HOME (4663) for assistance.