Apr 29

Money Matters: Conversation About the Future

by Stacia Dahl, AARP

This question came from Judy who stopped by our booth at a recent health fair in Kalispell:

Q: My Dad is in his mid-70s and my mom passed away about ten years ago. Dad has since remarried. My sisters and I all know that we need to have “the talk” fairly soon with Dad about caregiving and money matters, but frankly it is quite painful because it will be opening up some old wounds. We are at odds with how to proceed – do you have any tips or advice?

A: Among the more difficult family challenges in life is knowing how and when to have the talk about money matters or caregiving wishes with one or both of our parents.

Then there’s the other side of the equation. Have you talked with your adult kids about your financial matters, and your vision of how you’d like to live out your life as you age? Your kids are probably as uncomfortable broaching the subject with you as you are broaching it with your own parents.

Follow these suggestions on how to talk to your parents about their finances, and then turn around and talk to your kids about yours. You will find that it will give everyone peace of mind.

Approaching your parents
Talking with your parents about their finances and caregiving preferences is bound to be awkward. They may become defensive, thinking that you don’t trust them to take care of things anymore. You know your parents best, so think about how to set them at ease. It’s helpful to say upfront that it’s a difficult conversation for both of you.

Before you have the talk, put together a list of financial and caregiving information you will need to help them. Get help by going to www.aarp.org, and searching for “organize important documents.”

When you’re ready, here are some tips on having the conversation.

  • Share a story. A great way to start the conversation is to share a story about a friend or neighbor that your parents could relate to.
  • Be respectful and positive. Let your parents know that you’re interested in helping make their lives manageable as they age.
  • Start small. If your parents are hesitant to talk, try taking on something small. For example, ask them to tell you where they keep their important documents.
  • Ask them to talk about their caregiving preferences. Do they want to age in place? Would they be open to moving into a retirement community with continuing care options? Find out if they have long-term care insurance or other means of paying for care if they need it.

Talking to your adult kids
Now that you’ve started the conversation with your parents, it’s time to talk to your adult kids. They will likely appreciate that you initiated the conversation so they didn’t have to!

A great place to start is to take AARP’s 40-day pledge to create a “Living Longer, Living Smarter” plan at www.decidecreateshare.org. It will help you decide what kind of future you see for yourself, create a plan to achieve those goals, and then share that plan with your kids. The pledge will take you through the process of organizing documents, calculating long-term care expenses, and creating an advance directive. This document identifies the kind of care you want in the event you aren’t able to make medical decisions down the road.

It’s up to you how much you want to share with your kids. Think about what’s useful to know about your own parents, and let that be your guide. We wish you all the best with your planned talk. At this stage of life, one of the best gifts one can give and receive is peace of mind. By talking to your parents, and to your kids, peace of mind is within reach.

For help on financial matters such as planning, budgeting and goal setting check out www.aarp.org/ readyforretirement.

Do you have a question for AARP Montana? Send your question to “Ask AARP Montana” at MTAARP@ aarp.org or 30 W 14th St., Helena, MT 59601 or call our toll-free hotline at 866-295-7278. As we receive questions, we will consult with both internal and external experts to provide timely and valuable advice.

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