When it's your turn: How to have the money talk with your aging parents

by
Claire Coleman
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Whether it’s mobility, medical care, money or day-to-day errands and tasks, helping out your aging parents is an emotionally and financially taxing process. Here are some tips to help you through it all.

Understand The Role Reversal

As we take on the responsibility to care for our parents or other family members, we’re actually changing the role we have within the family. It’s a reversal of roles and responsibilities, and one that can seem disorienting or even confusing. So, take a moment to acknowledge the new reality.

Have the Talk

It’s your turn to have a ‘talk’ with your parents, one where you understand their financial position, and step in to help them manage their finances and life better. Some tips on how to do this right:

  • Money can feel like a taboo subject, especially for adult children to bring up to their parents. Your parents might assume you think they don’t know what they’re doing—and that’s not the vibe you want to put off! If the conversation feels uncomfortable before it really even begins, maybe give them examples of your friends or others who’ve done this too.
  • First, keep your tone open and empathetic. The last thing you want is for them to feel judged for their financial decisions, or to think you’re just trying to figure out how much you’ll get for your inheritance. Call out how awkward this might be, see if you can introduce some lightness into the discussion.
  • Second, listen more than you speak. Make the conversation about what they want and ask them: what do you picture your life looking like in one, two or ten years? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? The point is to show them you care about being able to carry out their wishes.
  • Ask about their current plans. They may have plans for some of this already, and if they do, that’s great! The goal here is to get everyone on the same page and make sure all the bases are covered.

Don’t forget to care for yourself

Helping an aging parent is rewarding but it can easily become a source of chronic stress.

It’s easy to neglect your own needs and wellbeing, but that will just jeopardize your own health, and also affect your ability to care for and connect with your parents. Talk to friends, join a support group, set boundaries, or ask for help.

We’re here for you

What if you could help your parents, and yourself, financially and emotionally? You can. Our Money Coaches will help you navigate this heavy lift by creating a personalized plan, helping you stay on track, and offering emotional support.


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