Senior services, like assisted living or home care take money, caring for parents means having the "Money" talk. Has your parent stopped participating in favorite activities, eats out less or travels less? Is there deferred maintenance on her home or car or unpaid bills around the house? These are warnings of possible financial issues.
Asking "Dad, are you worried about money?" or "Mom, do you have enough money to pay for senior services?" probably won't work. Many members of the "Greatest Generation" are reluctant to discuss money matters with their adult children. It's better to bring up the subject of money more indirectly.
Plan your conversation carefully. Start with an example of a senior having money problems. Plan follow up questions to gently probe about your parent's situation. Research the cost of common senior services. Talking about money is not a one-time conversation.
Does your parent have enough money? Three scenarios are possible:
Your parent has savings and investments plus enough income to cover current day-to-day expenses and their long term senior care needs.
This is the best case scenario when caring for parents. Your parent has ample funds. Do a reality check on the cost of senior services versus how much cash they have saved. This will help all of you make sure there is enough money for home care, living in assisted living facilities and other senior services.
Your parent has enough income to cover their current expenses and has no or a small nest egg for the future.
Your concern in this scenario is how your parent will pay for replacing or repairing major assets and senior care expenses? Help your parent review their budget for savings. Investigate Medi-caid planning to protect your parent's estate from senior care expenses.
Your parent is falling behind in day-to-day expenses and does not have a nest egg for the future.
Help your parent reduce expenses so that they can live independently. Can a family member offer your parent a monthly stipend or pay certainly monthly expenses to help your parent stay afloat? Help your parent enroll in government programs that pay for senior care.
Provide for your own financial security first when caring for parents. When your future is secure you can help your parents and prevent passing on senior care expenses to your children.
Have you had the "money talk" with your parent? How did it go?
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-- Janice Wallace