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How to Talk to Aging Parents About Finances

Finances | February 2, 2023

An adult caregiver talking to her aging parent about finances.

Money can be a sensitive topic to discuss with your parents. For years, your parents were in charge of managing day-to-day finances, but it may be time for them to hand the reigns over to someone else.

Whether your parents just need some simple assistance or help with everything, it’s important to approach your parents the right way. Let’s break down how to determine if your parents need help and how to talk to them about handling their financial future.

What Are the Signs that My Parents Need Financial Help?

While some parents may be more open about their financial situation, others may try to keep that private. The following warning signs can serve as indicators that it’s time for someone to handle their finances for them.

Mail

Your parents’ mail can highlight a few financial problems. Certain types of mail, such as collection bills or balance transfer offers, can hint at potential money mismanagement or other issues. Regularly unopened mail is another red flag that your parents aren’t keeping up with their bills or are simply forgetting to do so.

Phone calls

Try and keep track of who calls your parents. Are there any people calling to ask for money or collect on bills? Regular messages from creditors are an immediate warning sign, while frequent scam calls is a potential issue if your parents don’t recognize them as phony. Even increased calls from charitable organizations or friends asking for money can indicate that your parents may be too generous with their money.

Spending habits

Watch out for any unusual purchases or sudden spending splurges that can cause financial strain. It’s also helpful to take a look at your parents’ checkbook or other banking records to spot excessive spending, bounced checks, or suspicious charges. Increased spending and lax money management are both warning signs of financial issues.

Financial complaints

Some of the biggest warning signs come directly from your parents. If you regularly hear your mom or dad avoid normal expenses or mention they don’t have enough money, it may be more than just a complaint.

Memory concerns

If you think a parent is having trouble keeping track of financial details, it may be time for some financial assistance. Everything from not remembering where they leave their cash to forgetting to pay bills are signs that your parents need some help.

How To Approach Elderly Parents About Money Management

Let’s face it – it’s rarely easy to talk to your parents about overseeing their finances. Discussing money can be an uncomfortable conversation, especially if your mom or dad is struggling with finances or embarrassed to need help after being the caretaker for so many years.

As awkward as these conversations can be, it’s important to discuss finances with your parents. The good news is that there are steps you can take to make these chats less daunting.

Start early

It’s better to bring up financial assistance too early than too late, even if your parents aren’t showing any warning signs. Try and find a time where your parents are calm and relaxed to bring up their financial affairs and who will help them when they do need more assistance. If your parents don’t like surprise chats, suggest a time to sit down with them and be honest about the goal of this meeting. These early conversations can help make it easier to broach the topic later once it’s time for you to help your aging parents with their finances.

Prepare

A little preparation goes a long way toward having productive money talks. Make a list of topics that you want to discuss, whether you want to talk about long-term plans, legal documents, or immediate assistance.

It’s also important to coordinate your efforts with other family members if necessary. If you have siblings, you’ll need to determine who will be the one to start the financial conversation alone or if multiple people will be involved. Everyone will also need to determine exactly how they can help and what roles everyone will play ahead of time so that parents will know how everyone will help and work together.

Be caring and respectful

How you discuss finances can be as important as what you say. Many parents are already reluctant to share information about their finances, so it’s important to take a sensitive approach when discussing finances with your loved ones.

  • Be direct – It’s good to get straight to the point. Make it clear why you want to gather information or step in to help so that everyone knows exactly why this discussion is important.
  • Stay calm and positive – There’s a chance that your parents might get defensive or upset when it comes to their finances. Keep calm and try to focus on the benefits of these talks, mainly about how it will help the whole family and help ensure a more comfortable future for your parents.
  • Ask for advice – Parents can struggle with the role reversal of needing their children to step in and oversee their finances. Make sure to keep them involved by asking about what they did in the past and for financial advice. This approach can make them feel both valued and helpful, which will make them less apprehensive about having you step in to help with their finances.

Focus on big-picture topics instead of money

Money talks don’t have to focus on actual money. In fact, focusing on current savings and pending bills can only add more initial stress. Start financial talks by discussing long-term goals and overall wishes. For example, ask your parents about their future wishes and retirement goals. This approach can help everyone focus on why it’s important to help your aging parents and open up discussions about specific financial topics.

Get the Support You Need to Make Informed Decisions

With the right approach, you can help your parents with their finances. Of course, it’s not easy to support your parents on your own. That’s why National Church Residences is here to help caregivers navigate the complexities of later life.

Trying to determine the right senior living solution? National Church Residences takes an individual approach to support seniors and help them live a healthier, more satisfying lifestyle. Find out which senior living options are in your area or give us a call at 844-465-6063 to talk to one of our friendly staff members today.

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