As a child of aging parents, you’ll inevitably need to bring up the subject of money and finances. Older parents often retire from their jobs and rely on savings and retirement plans to carry them through. In addition, seniors face increased medical expenses and must plan for their future healthcare needs. These plans usually include aging in place at home or evaluating assisted living providers.
Children often help manage their parents’ medical care and possibly their finances in the event of a crisis. Because of this reality, it’s better to know what your parents’ wishes are and that important documents are in place. At the same time, talking about finances can be tricky and sensitive. Here are some tips on how to talk to your aging parents about those topics before it’s too late.
Bridge the Conversation With a Purpose
Starting a conversation about finances and senior living concerns will be easier if you start with a reason. For example, you might begin by discussing Alaska’s rising cost of living and the state’s unique geography. You can state your concerns about more limited options and economic restrictions for older adults and seniors.
As you get into the topic, it’ll feel more natural to segue into questions about whether your parents have a plan for their future. Do they see themselves retiring in Alaska or want to move to a different state? Perhaps they’d prefer one with warmer weather and more community resources for seniors. Talking through these scenarios will reveal whether your parents have a strategy and how it might impact your own plans.
Ask for Advice
Most people feel flattered when they’re asked for advice about something. Most parents see it as an opportunity to pass down wisdom or insight they’ve learned the hard way. Asking your parents for financial advice can be a great way to bring up the subject of money without being intrusive.
For instance, you might say you’re thinking about getting a head start on planning for retirement. Ask them if they know anything about the cost of assisted living options or how long they can expect retirement funds to last. Seeing what your parents know about various investment strategies can also reveal what level of support they might need. Not everyone has had access to pension plans or well-paying jobs that allowed saving enough to support them after retirement.
Consider Relationship Dynamics
If you have a close relationship with your parents, they may have already given you hints about their finances. They might have given you a copy of their will or made you their medical proxy and power of attorney. That being said, you still might be missing a few crucial details. When you’re close to your parents and talk often, you can probably say you want to schedule a time to review their wishes, your responsibilities, and their documents.
But, if you’re not as close to your mom or dad, you might need to get more creative. You might ask them to participate in activities or attend presentations hosted by local community services and experts. Another option is to find a class or workshop about senior care and finances at a community college. Let your parents know you’re interested in learning more about these subjects and would like to help them.
Express Concern About Hereditary or Genetic Conditions
Nearly everyone knows DNA tests are available to test for genes that increase the chances of developing certain health conditions. Some of these conditions include late-onset Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and macular degeneration. You might be able to transition into a conversation about your parents’ future healthcare needs by expressing concern over health conditions that run in the family.
If the risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s is a concern, start talking about memory care community resources or ways to care for individuals with the disease. Talking through the subject makes it less formidable and can help sort out the nuances of your mom’s or dad’s wishes. They may already know they have an increased risk for certain healthcare conditions and have specific plans in mind. For example, they might be looking into nursing homes or home health care as options.
Talking with your aging parents about finances may seem intimidating. However, it doesn’t have to be. You can have the conversation without making anyone feel awkward or offended by leveraging appropriate subjects as icebreakers.
Riverview Senior Living is Juneau, Alaska’s gold standard for community care and assisted living resources. We support older adult lifestyle options that are as unique as you are.