Helping the elderly with finances is frequently a forbidden subject, as well as the cause of many arguments, enhanced emotions, and misconceptions. And for a large number of today’s seniors, who maintain a “Depression mentality” from decades of saving for a rainy day and learning to “waste not, want not,” it may be difficult for them to share access to personal finances with adult children, as well as to recognize the necessity of spending some of those finances on caregiving needs.
Speaking with an older loved one about finances is most effective when initiated before the need develops, recognizing it could take quite a few discussions until an agreement can be reached. These discussion starters can help:
- “Dad, at some point, we are going to need to make some decisions concerning the future. Now might be a great time to sit down together and look at your wishes in addition to the financial side of making sure we can 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 might be beneficial to have a backup plan set up. Let’s take a moment and create one.”
- “Mom and Dad, you have always been so competent at handling your money and providing for us while we were growing up. We would like to make sure to continue that legacy, and to understand how best to help the two of you meet your monetary obligations in case the time comes that you need some assistance with that.”
It’s also useful to share real-life scenarios of a relative or neighbor who was victimized by identity theft, or a story from the news regarding the ever-changing economy, stock exchange declines, changes to tax laws, etc. This tends to trigger a conversation about your aging parents’ own retirement plans and any financial fears for the future, letting you arrive at a mutually agreeable resolution, such as talking with a financial advisor together.
Most importantly, be certain that you maintain 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 still 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.”
Atlanta Home Care Partners, the leading providers of home health care in Dunwoody and the surrounding area, offers an in-home consultation to help seniors and those who love them to realize their choices for care, and to help mediate complicated conversations such as those associated with helping the elderly discuss financial concerns. Reach out to us at (404) 228-0103 for assistance.