Nearly half of Americans between 55 and 66 years old have no savings for retirement based on a recent write-up from the U.S. Census Bureau. Furthermore, quite a few who believe they’re ready for their retirement years may have some unpleasant surprises in store when the time actually rolls around. With all that in mind, talking to aging parents about their financial situations is crucial.
Getting the Conversation Started
Despite the importance of speaking with parents about finances, or perhaps because of it, having a conversation like this isn’t easy. In some cases, even getting such a conversation underway is impossible. As such, planning ahead for a conversation about senior living, medical issues, covering the costs of retirement, and other pertinent matters is advised.
For most people, simply telling mom and dad it’s time to talk about their financial situation isn’t the best option. Though this type of conversation should be open and honest, taking a direct approach could cause aging parents to become defensive or shut down altogether. It’s usually better to ease into the topic by taking a more indirect stance.
Turning the Tables
Consider making it seem as though the conversation is about your own financial situation. Ask mom and dad for advice about planning for the future. Tell them you’re concerned about all the costs of living you’ll be up against when you get older. Request their input on the matter. Then, you can ask, “Is that what you did?” Granted, many parents will see right through this approach. Still, it may be enough to get a comfortable dialogue going and disperse some of the common defense mechanisms that tend to derail such conversations.
Asking aging parents what their plans are for retirement might be an effective solution as well. Pay close attention to their responses, both the spoken ones and what lies between the words. If they respond with enthusiasm and affirmation, they may already have their finances in order. A prime example might be, “We’re going to buy an RV and travel around the country. We’ve looked at several motorhomes but haven’t decided which one we want yet.”
On the other hand, if they indicate that they had plans but those might not take shape, financial hurdles may be looming on the horizon. Instead of the previously mentioned response, they may say something along the lines of, “We always wanted to buy an RV and travel around the country, but that’s not going to happen.” That’s an indication that they may not be financially ready for what’s to come.
Perhaps one parent believes that financial matters shouldn’t be discussed but the other is more open about money. If so, you could speak with the latter about their financial situation. From there, that parent may be able to approach the other more successfully than you would alone. Maybe one parent is exhibiting warning signs of dementia. In that case, speak with the other one to find out if they’re financially capable of covering the cost of memory care in Sun City and other pending expenses.
Proceeding with the Discussion
Once you’ve gotten your foot in the door on the topic of finances, proceeding with the discussion may be easier. From there, questions can take a more direct turn, and you can dig deeper. That’s when the more complicated and potentially uncomfortable matters come into play.
Be sure to cover multiple angles during the conversation. Do you have long-term care and life insurance? What types of investments have you made? Do you have pensions coming in? If so, how long will they hold out? Do you have a savings account? Have you considered assisted living options in case the need arises? Do you have a will? Have you handled your funeral plans and final expenses in advance? If not, what are your wishes?
Those are only a few of the questions that need to be asked. Several factors, including expenses, should be taken into account when preparing for retirement and beyond. At the same time, each family is different, so essential questions and elements to consider could vary depending on your unique situation and family dynamic.
At The Gardens of Sun City, we provide memory care, assisted living, and many other solutions. We offer an array of services and amenities to help keep our community members happy and healthy. From wonderful activities and dining opportunities to personalized care from experienced, compassionate caregivers, we’re dedicated to meeting all our residents’ needs.