Adult children will often experience the role reversal of becoming caregivers to their aging parents. Many people need assistance as they enter their senior years. Committing to this task may cause people to oversee more than they expect. As parents experience health issues, talks about their future care may begin. The moment provides an opportunity to learn more about their financial health. Financial well-being is vital because it ensures they can provide for their needs. It is often a difficult discussion to begin, but worth the effort.
Why it Matters
Approximately 15 million American seniors live below the poverty line. Many others have a higher income and still struggle due to healthcare expenses or regional costs. Seniors may not tell their families about these shortages out of embarrassment. Secrecy can lead to food insecurity and a failure to get the healthcare they need. Other seniors have adequate income but become targeted by scams or other financial crimes. Oversight by a loving child can ensure the parent gets the assistance they need.
Why Avoidance Occurs
Adult children may avoid discussions with their parents because finances are personal, and they do not want to pry into their lives. People who spend decades managing these decisions alone may dislike discussing them with others. Parents may feel embarrassed or inadequate if they do not have as much money as they think their children expect.
When to Begin
The conversation should ideally begin once children become independent adults. It must happen before the parents’ needs become too great. No one wants to discover their parents cannot afford help as their health issues make them consider assisted living options.
The talks should take place even if the parents have already moved into a community. The ability to cover costs now does not mean they have enough for 20 years of assisted care. In addition, children must know all they can about what their parents have for goals and final wishes.
How to Initiate
Most adults appreciate respect and honesty. Adult children should approach the matter with this in mind. Explain any concerns and the importance of knowing what they want if they cannot make their own decisions. These talks should begin immediately for parents entering a memory care community. Any illness affecting cognition reduces the ability to remember details and make choices.
What to Discuss
Adult children should understand their parents’ basic budget. Know what money they have coming in and what expenses they cover. Get a list of all accounts and balances like investments, life insurance, and retirement accounts. Ask about their preference for what happens with assets like homes and vehicles if they choose to move into a senior living community.
What to Collect
Parents should provide children with a list of their current accounts. Request retirement contracts, life insurance policies, investment portfolios, and more. The original documents can remain with the parents, and children can keep copies for reference.
What to Create
Discuss estate planning to ensure they have everything prepared if unable to make decisions for themselves. Update older paperwork. Wills and policies created decades earlier may list beneficiaries who have passed away, leave out assets, or include assets no longer owned. Many documents exist to protect seniors and make their wishes clear. Some considerations include creating an advance directive that selects someone to make medical decisions for them if they cannot do it for themselves. A power of attorney can give individuals control over financial decisions, and a living will or DNR order helps with final medical care preferences.
What to Avoid
Adult children should approach their parents about these discussions in an honest and straightforward manner but avoid any attempt to control the situation. Many seniors remain mentally sharp and capable even as their bodies weaken. Allow them the respect to explaining their decisions and their goals. Seniors have decades of budgeting and financial experience behind them and can often provide their adult children with valuable advice. Do not make decisions without permission because it could cause legal trouble and affect the family relationship.
Parents love and care for their children throughout their lives. Return this love by helping senior parents stay financially secure through careful planning. The conversation may seem difficult to initiate, but most families adjust easily and appreciate the security the talks provide.
At Orchard Park, we offer a loving and safe community for those who do not feel comfortable living on their own. Our services adapt to the changing needs of people as they age, or during illness. Residents in our community live active, interesting lives to help them get the most from their golden years.