It’s difficult to reverse roles with your parent when they get older, but sometimes you must have tough conversations. One of the most difficult is on the subject of money. Now that your senior loved one has retired, they are living on a fixed income from how and where they invested their money. As long as they are able to remain independent and mentally alert, they can take care of their finances, but at some point, you may need to get involved.
How to Open the Discussion on Money
It’s best not to wait until your parent is confused or no longer able to manage their money on their own. Sometime when you’re enjoying a leisurely lunch or taking them shopping, you should bring up the topic of money.
You: Hey Mom, I want to make sure you’re taken care of and have everything you need. Do you have a retirement plan or ideas about the future?
Your mom: I haven’t really thought much about it.
You: Why don’t we talk about it and you can give me your thoughts on things.
You can then sit down and discuss where they want to live when they can no longer live at home. You can talk about how much money their desired location will cost and what they have set aside. It’s a good idea to ask if they have decided who will manage their money when it’s more than they can handle.
It’s often easier to talk about changes when they don’t have to be made now. It doesn’t seem so personal so your parent doesn’t get defensive. Make it seem like two adults having a conversation about the future. Let them have input and say what they want. You can work with them to make their goals happen and offer advice.
Choose Outside Financial Management
Money is the cause of a lot of turmoil in families with aging parents. The siblings may not agree on what’s best for Mom and Dad. Some may have selfish motives while others may have ideas on what they need.
Your parents may not like the idea of their kids taking on this role. It reminds them even more that they are losing their independence and the right to make their own decisions. Instead, you might find it easier to hire a financial planner or accountant to handle the finances. They can make the payments and monitor the funds to ensure there’s enough money for your parents’ expenses. This will also help ease their fears of running out of money.
One way to accomplish this is to have your parents set up a trust. Payments can be made through the trust for living expenses and other costs. It can be managed by a financial adviser or attorney independent of the family.
It’s never too early to start planning for the future, but seniors often postpone these important decisions because they see it as a negative thing. You can show them that change isn’t always bad. Take them to tour a place like Village Green and talk to the administration about cost. Once you discover that it’s affordable and allows seniors to enjoy an active, social lifestyle, many people lose their hesitation at planning for the future.
Don’t let the subject of money come between you and your parents, but don’t put off the conversation. You need to help them plan for the future so they can live comfortably and without worry.