Navigating conversations related to personal finances is always tricky. When it comes time to talk to aging loved ones about this generally pretty private topic, younger relatives almost always feel uncomfortable. However, it’s often necessary for younger caregivers to start keeping track of older relatives’ finances as they age. Much as it can feel like an invasion of privacy, it’s a necessary part of establishing a long-term care plan. Follow the tips below to help the conversation go a little more smoothly.
Older Americans tend to be more private about their finances than younger generations, which makes sense. A lot has changed since the silent generation and baby boomers started getting on their feet financially, including the options available for long-term care. Try to maintain an awareness of the cultural differences between different generations and be respectful of them.
Choose the Right Representative
In many families, there will be one or more people who are better suited to initiating conversations with their elders about finances and planning for the future. Parents may feel more comfortable sharing information with their eldest children, for example. If there is anyone in the family who works in the financial industry, that person may also be able to use their credentials to build trust and reduce discomfort surrounding this difficult subject.
It can help to open the conversation with a direct discussion of what’s motivating it. Some adult children of aging parents are concerned for their health, for example, and want to make sure they’ll be able to afford assisted living. Others are already providing care for their aging relatives and want to find out if it will be possible to seek respite care services. Even something as simple as wanting to plan for the future and respect the loved one’s wishes is a good reason for having a challenging conversation.
Start With Big-Picture Topics
Not everyone will respond with grace to direct questions about their finances, but most will be happy to talk about big-picture topics like how they envision spending the rest of their retirement years. This approach allows younger relatives who may eventually be tasked with providing care and making difficult decisions not just to learn their loved one’s wishes but also to make it clear that the priority isn’t money but the person’s quality of life. Eventually, it will still be necessary to have a direct conversation about financial planning, but easing into those discussions and reading between the lines can make the entire process easier.
If it seems like an aging loved one is already having trouble managing their finances, there won’t necessarily be time to beat around the bush. In these cases, the best approach is usually to offer help directly instead of asking about finances. Start small by suggesting things like accepting help with setting up automatic bill payments or keeping track of online accounts. Offering help with things like tax preparation can also offer younger caregivers insight into their loved one’s financial situations.
Let Them Feel in Control
Talking about finances and offering help is easier when younger family members frame the situation as one in which their elderly loved ones will maintain control over their finances and lives, more generally. Make it clear that the top priorities are to respect their wishes and to ensure that they’re able to continue having the quality of life to which they are accustomed, not to take away their independence.
Share Personal Experiences
One of the best ways to get people to open up is by sharing one’s own experiences first. Younger family members may be in the early stages of planning for retirement, for example, which could prompt questions about how their loved ones dealt with things like finding a financial planner and making sure all of their retirement goals were met. This tactic also opens a door for politely offering to help with the person or couple’s financial plans in appropriate ways as needed, whether that means offering to take on the financial power of attorney, become an executor, or just help with finding a professional estate planner.
Find a Long-Term Solution
Elders who are already at the point where they need extra help with not just managing finances but also the various activities of daily living may need to start establishing plans for long-term care. Tiffany Court offers senior community living options that help elderly Californians make the most of their retirement years. Our amenities include not just restaurant-style dining, help with ADLs, and transportation but also pet therapy, a library, and even an on-site beauty salon. Call (925) 933-5555 or schedule a tour online today.