Tips for discussing finances with aging parents
In America, money is a topic that families will frequently avoid discussing at all costs. But as our parents age, usually a time comes when we need to come face to face with this taboo and discuss money candidly. Often that time is
precipitated by a parent’s need for senior living. The senior’s children will begin to the seach for an appropriate senior community, only to find that you can’t shop if you don’t have a budget.
If you are helping a parents find senior living, you will need to know what they can afford. Here are tips to help overcome hesitation they may have about sharing financial information. Overcoming this reluctance is essential to finding an appropriate senior community that’s in the right price range.
Come to the conversation with objectives
Before the talking with your parents, determine what financial information you need. You may not be able to get all that information during one conversation, but it’s important to know what you’re asking for.
Choose a good time to
You parents will be most open if you choose a time to talk when everyone is relaxed
and comfortable. Make sure you’re in a place without distraction and that you have given
yourself enough time to discuss these important matters.
You don’t have to pretend it’s easy to talk about financial
matters. Break the ice by acknowledging the elephant in the room. You might say something like,
“You know, I realize our family never discussed money much, but I think it’s
Remind them they are in control
feeling of powerlessness can overcome seniors who sense they can no longer live totally
independently. Parents who feel like they are losing control may become secretive about financial
information in an effort to have a modicum of control over at least one aspect of their life. When
discussing options and plans with parents, don’t use any language or intonation that your
parents might find condescending. Remind them that they are still calling the shots and that
you’re here to make sure their wishes are met. Ask their preferences every step of the way.
Defer to those preferences whenever possible.
parents that you are helping then
Explain to your loved one that you are asking for
financial information so that you can help them to make the best possible choice regarding their
future, not for any self-interested reason. Show your parent that it’s in their best interest
to be forthcoming.
These conversations are rarely easy. If the first conversation
doesn’t go as well as you hoped, regroup and try again at your next opportunity. Consider
including additional family members in the conversation (such as siblings) if you believe their
presence will make your parents more open, or help them to understand the importance being candid
about their financial situation.
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