Over the years, you and your parents have probably had a few awkward conversations. One particularly difficult topic is finances—and it’s a subject adult children often put off discussing with their parents. It can be an uncomfortable conversation, especially if you grew up in a family that didn’t talk about money very much.

Helping a senior plan for the future, however, means gaining insight into their financial situation. It’s also a necessary step to protect them from fraud and scams that target older adults.

Tips for Talking with a Parent About Money

1. Ease into the discussion

If you are uncomfortable starting this conversation, it might be tempting to rush through it and get all of your questions and concerns out quickly. That can be overwhelming, especially when your older loved one is caught off guard.

If you have a sense that your parent is struggling to manage their finances and create a plan for the future, ask them how they are feeling about things. Keep your tone casual and light. It can be as simple as asking how they are doing managing household finances and paying bills. Your parent might have not mentioned that they are having a tough time because they didn’t want to burden you.

2. Signs a senior needs help

There are a few common signs that can indicate a senior is struggling to manage their finances. Your senior loved one might deny they are struggling, so knowing how to recognize the warning signs is important.

  • Are unopened bills stacked up around the house?
  • Is your parent receiving phone calls from unidentified phone numbers? Bill collectors may be calling regarding unpaid bills.
  • Have any utilities been disconnected due to non-payment?
  • If you are able to view their checkbook, is it current? Do you spot any odd expenditures or unusually large withdrawals?

3. Talk about identity theft

An easier, less awkward way to start the discussion might be to talk about identity theft. It may help if you give your loved one a few examples of local seniors who have had their identity stolen. This can open the door to discuss the details of their financial situation and how you can help them avoid becoming a victim.

4. Create a plan together

After you’ve determined how much support your family member requires, make it your goal to find the safest, least intrusive way to help. It’s important to balance your loved one’s need for independence with sound financial management.

Financing Senior Living

If a move to senior living could be in your loved one’s future, you may be interested in learning more about financing this transition. Our “Financial Options” page is a resource we made to help. It covers a variety of topics, ranging from veterans’ benefits to short-term bridge loans. You can also call the Sunrise Senior Living community nearest you to learn more.


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