Families are often concerned about the finances and future of aging parents and want to ensure those loved ones have what they need. However, initiating this discussion is often challenging, and the children want to get the best possible results. Discover ways to navigate the subject of finances with your elderly parents for a successful outcome.
Understand Generational Differences
Understanding generational differences is the first step toward a meaningful discussion about money with your aging parents. Older generations often are unaccustomed to discussing finances and might feel uncomfortable tackling the subject. Broaching the discussion gently and respectfully can help them open up about their concerns about money, senior living, and other important issues.
The Right Person Matters
Sometimes parents are more likely to talk about private issues with a particular family member. Putting egos aside is crucial when initiating conversations about money with aging parents. The family should choose the members that typically talk about such matters so your parents feel comfortable discussing the subject.
Timing is Crucial
Another aspect to consider when talking about money with aging parents is timing. For example, talking about money over the holiday turkey might not be the best time. If holidays are the only time the family gathers, wait until after the meal to start a discussion about the future.
When families discuss sensitive topics, they sometimes hint about them rather than open up a frank conversation. Be direct about your concerns for your parents’ future and let them know you want peace of mind. If your parents understand your worry and concerns, they will be more likely to provide reassurance.
Ask About Legal Documents
Verifying your parents have essential legal documents for their golden years helps protect them in the event of a crisis. Inquire about legal documents, such as a power of attorney and living will, so that, if they become ill or unable to take care of business in the future, someone will handle the tasks for them. If they are unsure how to proceed, ask about scheduling an appointment with an attorney who will explain the importance of these documents. Also, an attorney can facilitate a more meaningful financial conversation with your parents.
Don’t Talk About Money
Sometimes, it helps to avoid the words money and finance when initiating a conversation with your parents. For example, ask them how they envision their retirement and what they would do if one of them were ill or unable to care for themselves. Often children discover their parents may not have thought of the future yet and welcome the opportunity to discuss it.
Send a Formal Invitation
The older generations still communicate via snail mail, and receiving a formal invitation in the mail might be an effective way to start a conversation about money. Let them know the meeting is because you care about them and want to talk about their golden years. A little effort can go a long way when it comes to opening up to elderly parents.
Share a Story
Sharing a story about other aging parents’ circumstances can inspire a conversation with your parents about the future and their finances. For example, discussing someone who had a spouse that required memory care helps your parents mention their concerns. Create an environment that encourages further discussions about your parents’ future and plans.
Allow Them to Control the Discussion
When children have a take-charge attitude about money with their parents, it often makes them reluctant to share important information. Allowing your parents to control the conversation and their future decisions encourages them to share their thoughts and ideas. Then you can initiate a further discussion about making definitive plans and how you can help them along the way.
Talk to Them Individually
If one parent resists discussing the future, initiate the conversation with the other parent, who might have concerns about their future. By starting to talk to one parent, you make it easier for them to talk to each other and the family when it matters most.
Whether your parents are financially secure or struggling, they might wonder about your intentions when the subject of money arises. Always be respectful and let them know you want to help them with their future plans while heeding their wishes. Parents are more likely to talk about finances if they know you are on their side.
Starting a conversation about finances with your parents can be difficult, but doing so matters for their future. A direct and respectful approach works best because they know you care about them and need peace of mind regarding their future well-being. The right timing also makes a difference and can help everyone feel better about their golden years.