Family financial matters are often a taboo topic, plus the source of a number of disputes, increased emotions, and misconceptions. And for many 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, and to accept the necessity to spend some of those finances on caregiving needs.
Helping aging parents with finances is most efficient when started before the need develops, appreciating it could take a number of talks until an understanding can be reached. These conversation starters will help:
- “Dad, sooner or later, we have to make some choices regarding the future. Now might be the perfect time to take a moment together and examine your wishes in addition to the financial side of making sure we are able to adhere to those wishes.”
- “Mom, I know you are managing your money just fine now, but what if something were to happen to your overall health that prevented you from paying your bills on time? It might be beneficial to have a backup plan in place. Let’s sit down and devise one.”
- “Mom and Dad, you have always been so competent at handling your finances and providing for us while we were growing up. We want to be sure to continue that legacy, and to know how best to help you both meet your financial obligations in the event that the time comes that you need to have some help with that.”
It is also important to share real-life situations of a friend or neighbor who was victimized by identity theft, or a story from the media with regards to the ever-changing economy, stock exchange drops, changes to tax laws, etc. This tends to jumpstart a discussion regarding your aging parents’ own retirement plans and any financial fears for the future, enabling you to come to a mutually agreeable solution, such as speaking with a financial advisor together.
Just remember, be certain that you uphold a sense of respect, never trying to “take over” when helping elderly parents with finances, but to deliver the assurance 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, 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.”
CareWorks Health Services offers an in-home consultation to help aging parents realize their choices for care, and to help mediate stressful conversations such as those connected to finances. Call us at (949) 859-4700 for assistance from our caregivers in Orange County and to learn how we provide the kind of home care Orange County families trust most. To learn more about all of the other areas we serve in California, please visit our Service Area page.