Millions of California residents live in the state because they enjoy a healthy outdoor lifestyle that can lead to a longer life. But, even the most vigorous seniors can develop health issues requiring help, so it’s crucial that older adults ensure they have the funds to cover care and living arrangements. While many seniors are well-prepared for their advanced years, some are in denial and not ready. In either case, it’s a good idea for adult children to speak to their parents about their future. That can be an uncomfortable conversation, but estate planning and financial experts have a few tips to make it easier.

Explain the Reason for the Discussion

Older adults are often reluctant to share information about personal matters, especially their finances. To get a clear idea of their circumstances, it’s essential to approach a conversation directly but tactfully. 

Let them know that you think it’s important to discuss their finances because you are concerned about their health and want to ensure they have a plan for the future. Explain that, even if the information isn’t needed for years, you want to ensure their wishes are respected.

This allows you to present options and address their worries. For example, suppose your parents have health issues and say they are concerned about managing their home as they age. You might mention that transitioning to senior living is an excellent way to ensure they remain safe and get the care they need.

Consider Parents’ Viewpoint 

In any discussion about their plans, ensure your parents remain in control of decisions. Consider their point of view when listening and making suggestions. PBS financial specialists point out that older adults often fear losing control. Even if they know they will eventually need support, many are in denial and avoid addressing the issue.  

Reassure parents that you are simply offering to help them and do not want to control their decisions. If possible, let parents decide what issues to discuss and when.

Ask About Their Priorities 

Before making plans, it’s crucial to learn your parents’ priorities. Most seniors are interested in talking about what’s important to them. They are often concerned about how they will be cared for as they age. Listen to your parents to determine their priorities. 

You might ask them whether they cared for their parents and if they expect their futures to be similar. It’s an excellent opportunity to discuss their health, which can lead to a conversation about any help they need with daily activities and the possibility of community living.

It’s also a perfect time to ask if they’ve thought about senior communities. If either parent has memory issues, you might discuss communities offering memory care for seniors.  

Many couples assume that if one gets sick, the other will care for them. However, it’s possible that both could get sick simultaneously, so planning for that eventuality is crucial, according to Schwab estate planning professionals. It’s crucial to discuss the cost of healthcare if both partners need care simultaneously.

Discuss Parents’ Existing Financial Resources 

Once you’ve determined your parents’ wishes, it’s crucial to decide on what they have in place to fund their plans. If you begin the conversation by emphasizing what’s most important, it’s easier to discuss their finances.  

Ask whether they have spoken to a financial advisor. Be aware that these professionals often ask clients to complete forms determining who advisors may share information with and under what circumstances.

Discuss any pensions, retirement accounts, or insurance policies. Ask where their legal documents are stored and who can access them. Find out whether parents have a will or power of attorney.  

This is an excellent time to discuss alternative funding options if parents’ current resources could fall short. For instance, homeowners may benefit from a reverse mortgage. If either parent is a Veteran, they may be eligible for Veterans’ long-term care benefits. 

In some cases, parents have made few, if any, plans and expect to go on Medicaid. Many assume they will move in with adult children or that children will help pay for their parent’s needs. A frank financial discussion allows everyone to understand the current situation and plan for the future accordingly.

Not all parents plan for their needs when they are older, so adult children should discuss the matter with them. Talking about financial issues can be uncomfortable, but if children use tact, consider their parents’ priorities, and openly discuss the problems, it’s possible to get a clear picture of their finances and plans. It’s also a chance to determine and fund plans and ensure parents’ wishes are respected.

Summerfield Memory Care is a distinctive Stockton, CA senior community. The staff strives for excellence and ensures residents enjoy a vibrant, joyful life.