Updated: Oct 6
Something has happened and you’re concerned about your elderly parents. They might need care in the near future. Maybe you’re concerned about their vulnerability to scammers. Maybe they need help paying bills. Whatever the reason, it’s time to have “the talk” about money. How do you start a discussion about something as delicate as a person’s finances?
Before you head into a heart-to-heart with your parents, you’ll be wise to prepare in advance. Here are a few tips that can help.
Do your homework.
What do you know about your parents’ financial situation? Do you have the correct information or is it possibly heresay? Gather the facts using sources available to you.
Know your “why.”
Have a clear understanding about your reasons for talking finances with your parents. Be specific with what you share. Are you concerned about where they’ll live in the future and what they’ll be able to afford? Are you worried about other people taking advantage of them? Are you troubled by the fact the bills haven’t been paid lately?
Pick the appropriate time and place to talk.
Don’t leap into it during the middle of a crisis when you want to say, “See I told you this would happen!” Wait until the moment is right, and everyone is rested and comfortable.
Start by speaking in general terms.
Talk about the difficulty of dealing with various companies today and how tough it is to get good customer service. Mention the countless number of scams and frauds that bilk seniors of their money, and how the cost of everything is on the rise. It will be difficult for your parents to disagree with these factual statements.
Think about how you would feel if someone wanted to talk to you about money. Think about how you might react. Most people don’t appreciate that type of interference and your parents will likely not be any different. Approach the subject with loving kindness and never use a heavy handed, “I know best” attitude. It probably won’t go over well.
One of the best ways to show respect is by asking your parents for their opinions and feedback. How do they feel about their future? Do they think they’re prepared for the years ahead? What have they heard lately about frauds? Are they anxious about making ends meet or paying monthly bills?
Involve them in decisions that affect them.
They’ll be much more likely to follow through if they think it was their idea and they’re in agreement.
Involving your parents’ banker, financial planner, or lawyer might increase your parents’ receptivity. Some older adults are more willing to take advice from a respected authority figure than they are from someone whose diapers they changed.
Take small steps in the right direction.
Don’t expect everything to happen at once. Bite off little pieces and celebrate the wins.
Watch for warning signs.
Changes in a person’s ability to handle finances can be a warning sign of dementia. If your parent was an accountant and now they have difficulty adding numbers or balancing the books, you may want to keep your eye on them. Watch for other warning signs and encourage them to see their doctor.
If you’re concerned about an elderly loved one and you would like a second opinion, Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law is here for you. Just give us a call at 615.824.2571.