This is one of the most important topics for Boomers and our parents. It’s a very difficult subject to talk about, especially if there is some mental impairment involved. But even without some form of dementia in the picture, the discussion about financial control can be very challenging. So we thought it might be helpful to offer some suggestions and links to good information on this.
The inspiration for this article came from one at the Forbes website under the heading “Talking To Impaired Aging Parents About Giving Up Financial Control”. It has some excellent suggestions such as:
- acknowledge that this transition of power is difficult
- choose the right time
- Let your parent choose where to meet
- Expect resistance and do advance planning
It’s important to keep in mind that elder abuse is on the rise. Further, seniors know it’s on the rise because they talk about it, read about, see TV ads about it etc. So the slightest sign that they may be on the receiving end of this will raise emotional alarm and prevent taking the actions needed to ensure their financial well-being.
Remember that control of finances is ultimate control over every aspect of one’s living situation. Food, shelter, clothing, comfort etc. all come under the financial umbrella. But most importantly is the effect on the feeling of independence. Any perceived threat to independent living will shut down the conversation. So treading lightly is very important, and this requires great reserves of patience.
However, it is equally important to start the conversation. Letting it slide because the topic is uncomfortable may be courting a major problem if the financial structure is not sound. For example, if a serious illness besets a parent and you cannot access their bank account to ensure regular bills are paid, this can be a big problem for everyone. Topics like Power of Attorney for Property and Health should be discussed. Several “what if” scenarios should be addressed along with knowledge of where accounts are held, contact information etc.
There is much to consider in this subject. But the very least, think about starting the discussion.