The day you realize you need to address the future with your aging parents can be emotional and awkward. It may be when their memory starts to fade, they need more help getting around the grocery store, or their driving becomes an issue. It may become clear that they need some assisted care or help with their financial decisions.
Discussing money may not have been a part of you or your parent’s upbringing. According to a recent Forbes article, money can be an emotional subject and feel inappropriate to ask about. However, not planning ahead could leave the financial burden on you, or leave your parents without the housing or care they need for the rest of their life.
It is a vital series of talks to have. These five tips can help make the discussion smoother for everyone involved:
Be open to their worries. Aging parents may be trying to maintain their sense of independence and feel upset by the idea of losing control. If they have an adverse reaction initially, they may need some time to come to terms with how the future is changing. Listening to their concerns, such as feeling stressed that they worked their whole life but still feel short on money, can benefit the overall planning you are trying to accomplish.
Assure them if they are embarrassed. Parents may not want to discuss their perceived failures with their children. If retirement or savings accounts are not as high as they wanted, or unplanned medical expenses or debt has accrued, it can be difficult for some parents to admit.
Know your expectations beforehand. Not all adults want to care for their parents or can afford to support them financially. Some children are not close with their parents or find them challenging. Make your decision and stick to it if the discussion turns emotional. This can help avoid promising more than you can handle.
Discuss other family member’s expectations. It can cause further conflict if one sibling promises their parents they can stay in their home and another thinks they need full-time nursing home care. Perhaps one person can afford to give more than another. Everyone should speak realistically so a care plan and financial support can be estimated. Then you can problem solve more effectively from that baseline.
Have an ally. If siblings or parents/children cannot agree, it can be helpful to have a friend or extended family member step in that your family respects. Another option is seeking legal guidance on your finances beforehand or seeking a legal opinion when your family cannot agree. A compassionate attorney can step in to help protect everyone’s best interests and determine options for financial relief.