Retirement is both a good and a bad time in life for many older adults. After a lifetime of participating in the workforce, providing for a family, and supporting themselves, it’s time to take a well-earned break. Retirement is anticipated to be a relaxing period in life spent with grandchildren, friends, and family members. For many though, financial troubles cause unnecessary stress.
As an adult with older parents, you can help alleviate that stress by having the “money talk” with your parents. There are a number of steps you can take to help them conquer modern technology, manage their bills, and stay ahead of their finances to ensure they enjoy their Golden Years as they always dreamed of doing.
Offer to Help
Part of the frustration your loved ones face might stem from modern technology’s role in financial management. If your parents aren’t accustomed to online banking, offer to help them by establishing automatic bill pay systems for them. If they ask you for help, step up to the plate and be there for them. Offer them guidance on keeping their accounts straight to ensure the proper bills are paid at the right time. Most importantly, remember to follow through with them to make sure they feel comfortable with these new features.
Offer Help, but Don’t Force It
Americans are fiercely independent people, it’s in the national DNA. A lot of people, especially from older generations, take pride in their independence. As you offer to help your elderly loved ones with their bills and other financial issues, be sensitive to their desire to retain a level of independence. Let them know you are there to help them, but don’t force your way into their finances and treat them like children.
Set Special Time Aside to Talk About Finances
The worst thing you can do is gloss over the problems your parents may face or pay only lip service to the issues. If your parents have reached out, expressed concern, or you’ve noticed it on your own, set aside some dedicated time to talk about their issues and concerns. You want to know that your parents feel comfortable, and that can’t happen with distractions in the background.
Talk About Everything
Nobody enjoys having the difficult conversations, whether it means discussing your own mortality or that of your loved ones. However, these conversations are important to have because it makes it easier to navigate the inevitable issues that arise as your parents’ age. You should ask your elderly loved ones about power of attorney so that you can manage their finances in the event of severe illness, either mental or physical.
Healthcare proxies and wills are of equal importance. How will your loved one be cared for in the event of a long-term illness? What about their assets when they pass? Is there a plan to divide those assets and pay for remaining bills? Talking about these issues now, rather than later, makes it easier to process their sense of loss and shortens the amount of time spent dealing with those difficult topics later on.
Last but not least, make time to follow-up with your parents so you can ensure that bills are still being paid, address unpaid bills before they become too large to manage, and ensure that your parents are still comfortable with their finances and how they are being managed.
The “money talk” might not be comfortable to have with your parents, but there are two things to remember here. First, the “birds & bees” conversation could not have been easy for them initiate, but they did it. Second, your parents deserve to be comfortable and stress -free in their retirement. These simple steps will allow you to have the “money talk” with them to enable a happier retirement.