Talking about money can be a difficult thing to do, especially when you’re discussing it with your parents. However, it is an unfortunate fact of life that it needs to be discussed, especially if your loved one is aging in place and is living on a fixed income. It is important for you, if you are one of her/his caregivers to understand their financial situation and be able to help navigate choices that they may need to make in the course of living independently.
When you take on the responsibility of being a caregiver for your loved one you may need to handle things that are not necessarily related to medical care and one of those things is the financial situation that your loved one is in. Depending on the circumstance you may need to have just a surface level understanding of their finances or you may need to be well-versed in all of the details so you can help make necessary choices that could impact their care and comfort.
Discussions about money among family vary wildly depending on cultural experiences and a lifetime of interacting about this topic with your family members, so you will need to take that into account as you approach the subject. It is important to respect your family’s feelings on sharing financial information and not force the topic. With that said, it is a topic that needs to be discussed so you will have to find a way to bring it up without disrespecting your loved one’s wishes. Here are the important things to discuss as it relates to long and short term financial stability.
1.) Be proactive. Saving a conversation about money until the point when it is an emergency situation can cause real problems and leave resentment between family members. If you discuss the financial situations when everyone is healthy and calm it will make all the difference in the world when the time comes for that money to be spent on important items that will help your loved one live a more comfortable life.
2.) Be patient. It can take some time for older family members to open up and have a desire to talk about their financial situation. If you bring it up and they are hesitant about sharing any information be respectful of their wishes and share with them that you are just starting a dialogue that you’re hoping can protect their interests while also respecting their privacy.
3.) Be thorough. You would hate to be speaking with your love one about their finances and have her/him lose faith in your abilities to help them manage and navigate their financial future. Do your best to track expenses and any income that might still be coming in and always share this information with your loved one so they do not feel like you are doing something behind their back. The greater transparency you can operate under, the more successful you will be in helping your loved one maintain a healthy financial future.
If your loved one is still uncomfortable with you knowing and managing their finances it may be a good idea to hire someone who has experience working with people who are aging in place. If this is the case you will want to work with your loved one to do some research and make sure the person you are hiring is reputable and has a good history of helping those who need financial advice and expertise.
The financial discussion can be as hard or, in some cases, harder than discussing medical records with your loved one who is aging in place. When you are bringing it up you should always do your best to be discreet and respectful so you can help your loved one while also allowing them to maintain their dignity and independence.