Millions of Americans are on the verge of retirement right now. As such, they’ll need to be financially prepared for what lies ahead. Unfortunately, research indicates that the majority of those who fall into that category aren’t ready for retirement from the financial perspective. That means they could face serious hardships moving forward. Those of us who have parents preparing for retirement may need to make our own preparations for the years to come.
Speaking with Aging Parents about Finances
As many of you may already be aware, talking about finances with aging parents is generally easier said than done. Many older Americans view this as a matter that shouldn’t be discussed with children, even if those children are adults. Because of that, bringing up the subject and getting the answers you need may prove to be a challenge. Knowing how to talk about finances with your aging parents could help the encounter to go more smoothly.
Timing and Location Are Crucial
First of all, be sure to choose a good time to talk with mom and dad about their retirement years, finances, senior living, and other relevant factors. Experts warn against bringing up topics like this during family gatherings, like holiday dinners or reunions. This is something that should be discussed in a private setting with few distractions and outside stressors.
It’s also best to choose a time when mom and dad are likely to be in a good mood and have clear minds. First thing in the morning may not be the best time. Late in the evening could be a poor choice as well. On top of that, picking a venue in which mom and dad are comfortable is also helpful.
With all that in mind, consider visiting your parents between late morning and early afternoon to have a financial discussion. Early evening can be an opportune time as well. Meeting at their home, yours, or that of a sibling could provide the quiet, comfortable setting you need. On the other hand, restaurants, parks, and other public venues probably aren’t the most suitable options.
You may also want to designate someone to babysit if there are young children in the family. Trying to chat about money matters with little ones running around could be stressful. At the same time, if emotions start to run high, you wouldn’t want the children to see everyone getting angry or upset.
If you choose mom and dad’s house for the conversation, don’t make it a surprise visit. Let them know you’re coming and want to talk to them about something important. Be sure to ask if they already have plans for the day and time you’re thinking of visiting, too. Thwarting their plans rather than planning around them could create a bit of hostility before the conversation even gets started.
Laying the First Stone
With a quiet, calm, comfortable location and mom and dad on board, it’s time to start the conversation. Your opening statement could make all the difference here. Approaching your parents with a demanding, accusatory tone could cause them to shut down. Immediately jumping into the topic of financial readiness for retirement or memory care for seniors may have the same effect.
Being calm and maneuvering gently into the topic may lead to better results. You could ask mom and dad if they’ve made any plans for retirement. Do they intend to travel and see the world or simply relax and
take things slowly? Are they thinking about community living, or would they rather stay at home for as long as possible? You could even tell them that “a friend’s parents” recently discovered they weren’t as prepared for retirement as they thought, and you’re worried they may end up in the same situation.
It’s often easier for parents to ease into a conversation like this. Bombarding them with numerous financial questions right off the bat could get their defenses up. It may feel more like an attack than a matter of concern. All that could generate more anger than answers, so approach the situation carefully.
Once mom and dad have opened up a bit, you can address the more in-depth issues at hand. That’s where asking them about savings, sources of income, insurance coverage, and other financial aspects can come into play. Even then, if they seem reluctant to answer a specific question or start to shut down at some point, you may need to move on to another topic or save the rest of your questions for another time.
Keeping Aging Parents’ Best Interests at Heart
At Summerfield of Encinitas, we fully understand the diverse needs and expectations of aging Americans and their families. Because of that, we’ve created a senior living community that caters to everyone. From providing memory care to scheduling exciting social events and beyond, we’re committed to keeping our residents safe and ensuring they get to enjoy the lifestyles they’re looking for.