California’s older adults often plan for retirement for years and make careful financial arrangements. However, that is not always the case, and it’s wise to check with your aging parents if you are unsure. Bringing up topics like finances, living arrangements, and care plans can be awkward for adult children, but it’s a crucial conversation that can resolve many issues. With a bit of forethought, discussing parents’ plans can help pave the way for a better-organized, more livable future.  

Explain Why You Want to Have a Conversation 

Most people hesitate to discuss personal finances, which doesn’t change when they get older. As a result, it’s wise to approach discussions tactfully and respect parents’ feelings. 

Be straightforward when talking to them about money, and explain why you are bringing up the topic. For instance, let them know you’re worried about their health or explain that you think it’s crucial to plan for the future.

Some financial experts recommend beginning with an example or story. For instance, you might talk about an acquaintance who died without a will, resulting in a court battle. Or, discuss a friend’s parents who planned to transition to senior living but didn’t have the funds at retirement. You may even discuss an older adult who became ill and left her family unable to access her accounts.

Find Out What’s Important to Older Parents 

You could discuss your financial planning efforts as a starting point for discussing your parents’. However, avoid making the conversation about you. Take the time to determine your parent’s wishes and plans. For instance, you may be surprised to learn they are tired of home upkeep and want to downsize and move to a community that offers independent living for seniors.

It’s essential to ensure parents remain in control of their plans. Let them know that you respect their wishes but need to know exactly what they want so you can be sure their plans are carried out.  

Determine Their Future Plans 

Ask your parents about their retirement care plans. If they need some help with routine activities, do they prefer home care, or will they consider assisted living options?

If you cannot determine what financial arrangements they have made to support their plans, Principal financial experts suggest you volunteer to help them with burdensome tasks, such as doing their taxes. Most people dislike the job; if you take it on, you can see their financial picture.  

Determine What Steps They’ve Taken

Even though seniors may know precisely what they want in their future, it doesn’t automatically follow that they have a plan to ensure that outcome. You will need a clear idea of what they want before you can help create a plan to ensure it happens. Kiplinger financial professionals suggest asking “What if” questions to help clarify.  

It’s an excellent way to tactfully inquire about the state of their arrangements. For example, ask about their plans in case one or both need to go to the hospital. Do they have a power of attorney in place? If seniors aren’t comfortable answering, let them know you want to know to ensure their wishes are respected.

Determine the Cost of Their Plans 

The fact that older adults want a particular lifestyle as they age doesn’t guarantee they can fund it. Once you have determined your parents’ future plans, you’ll need to research senior care costs and determine the cost of the life they want.

If they want to remain at home, determine the costs of home caregivers. Look into the price of independent and assisted living communities. Find out what memory care expenses would be if needed. 

Research Funding Options

Find out whether your parents have investments, retirement accounts, or pensions, and ask about life insurance or long-term care policies. Determine whether they have a financial advisor who can provide details.

If your parents do not have the money to pay for their plans, there may still be ways to make it happen, even if you or your siblings cannot chip in. For instance, seniors may qualify for Veterans’ benefits. A reverse mortgage could provide cash for many. Elders’ life insurance policies might let them free up money to use for long-term care.

Talking to elderly parents about finances can provide peace of mind to adult children and their parents. It’s crucial to approach discussions with respect. Determine their plans and learn what steps they have taken to ensure their wishes are respected. Once adult children understand their parent’s wishes and finances, they can help ensure seniors have the funds to pay for their future.

Ocean Hills Senior Living is an Oceanside, CA, community focused on providing residents with a healthy, stimulating lifestyle. The community is located on the California Coast and offers a beautiful setting, exceptional care, and luxurious amenities.