How You Should Approach Finances When Talking to Your Aging Parents

An estimated 52 million Americans are currently in the midst of retirement or nearing that point in their lives. Studies show that figure could exceed 90 million within the next few decades. Because of that, a growing number of people are taking a closer look at their finances.

More adult children are thinking about their parents’ financial situations as well. Many parents are reluctant to discuss financial matters with their children or mention they may be facing hardships. Still, it’s crucial to understand mom and dad’s financial situation and how it could impact their retirement years. 

Breaking the Ice on the Subject of Finances

With so many aging parents being hesitant to talk to their children about money and financial hurdles, bringing up the subject can certainly be difficult. Discussing matters like the need for senior living or memory care can be equally challenging. Talking about end-of-life expenses is uncomfortable, too. However, at some point, the topic needs to be brought up. It’s better to get all the details out in the open early on than to have unexpected issues arise without a plan in place. 

All that being said, there’s generally a right way and a wrong way to approach the subject. This is usually a matter that requires tact and patience. Consider some of the following tips to help make a conversation about finances with your aging parents more comfortable and productive. 

Be Gentle

Most people fare better by easing into a topic like this with their parents. Bombarding mom and dad with a list of questions about money could generate anger, embarrassment, resentment, and many other negative feelings. That’s especially true if one or both of your parents feels that finances are a private matter to be discussed only between them.

Because of that, think about taking a more indirect approach. Ask mom and dad if they’ve been planning for their retirement years. You could start by inquiring about what they plan to do with their time instead of asking about money. Once they divulge some of their possible goals, you can gradually turn the topic toward finances.

Alternatively, you may want to begin by casually mentioning you’re concerned about saving for your own retirement. Ask mom and dad if they have any advice. From there, guide the conversation in their direction. Ask what they’ve done to get ready for their retirement years and whether they have any financial plans in place. 

Be Respectful

Being respectful of mom and dad’s privacy, freedom, and dignity is also important. Don’t demand to know their financial status and the measures they have in place to provide for their upcoming needs. Make it a request. Let them know you’re asking because you’re concerned. They may only be willing to divulge a few details in the beginning. If that’s the case, be patient, and don’t insist on covering all the finer points in one sitting. Gather information as they’re willing to provide it. 

Additionally, it may be best to avoid making a conversation like this a family affair. Don’t bring the subject up during a family gathering. You may even need to designate a single sibling to speak with mom and dad about their financial situation as opposed to gathering all the children together for the conversation. Approaching parents as a group could feel more like an attack than a dialogue. Choose the oldest sibling or one who has a more easygoing relationship with your parents to speak with them. 

If your parents have a trusted confidant they’re more likely to talk to, that person may be the best choice for this type of conversation. Maybe mom and dad have a friend or relative who has already explored assisted living options. That person could be the prime candidate for initiating a conversation with your parents about planning for the future. 

Be a Good Listener

Talking with mom and dad about finances isn’t a one-sided situation. Though you need to have a list of important questions ready to ask them, hearing their side of the story is also essential. If they don’t have a plan in place, don’t judge them or take a harsh tone with them. Try to understand why they’re not prepared for upcoming expenses. If they’ve overlooked a few pertinent details, offer to help them cover those matters.

Keep in mind that this is uncharted territory for them. Facing retirement when they’ve worked their entire lives to earn a steady income is probably a bit frightening. Thinking about the possibility of developing dementia and eventually needing a memory care community may incite a great deal of anxiety for them. Allow them to discuss their fears and uncertainties along with their finances. 

Looking Ahead

At Terraza Court, we’re dedicated to meeting families’ needs and ensuring their aging loved ones are taken care of. We offer assisted living, memory care, and an array of other services for members of our community. With an emphasis on the health, safety, and happiness of our residents, we strive to create and maintain a strong sense of community.