There’s a commercial on the radio these days with a child asking, “Are we there yet?” Then a few seconds later, it’s a senior family member asking with a shaky voice, “Are we there yet?” The commercial is a simple but vivid lesson that we all play different roles in life: being a child dependent, a care provider and then a dependent again as we age. Parents are no exception, and as time passes, people of all stripes find themselves needing to help their loved ones with money and finances.
Not every bit of help requires paying for bills either. Many times, assistance to parents comes in the form of just needing to step in, engage in discussions and provide monitoring, help, guidance or simple assistance in getting financial activities taken care of. There are several reasons involved, from mobility to financial acuity, as one gets older and deals with sickness or failing mental abilities. Every generation finds itself in the same role, with a lot of common issues we can all learn from:
1. Anticipate Embarrassment About Money Issues
We’ve all been taught to be self-sufficient, so it can be extremely hard for parents, particularly older generations, to ask for help. Many won’t say anything, suffering in silence and believing that asking for help is a sign of weakness. In reality, younger helping relatives need to anticipate this and approach fears and egos softly. Communication is the key factor in successful help, but it won’t happen if people don’t open up.
2. No One Wants to Be a Burden
Again, socially the idea of needing financial help or guidance is often seen as burdening someone younger. When communicating with aging parents, it’s important to consider their perspectives as you transition from being taken care of, to being the caretaker.
3. Use Current Issues on the News to Initiate Discussions
Older generations are more likely to watch the news on television than younger generations, so it’s a great avenue to initiate discussions about money, using someone else’s example as a lesson or question about a parent’s financial status.1 Use these avenues to gain status information and spot risks before they become problems.
4. Respect Privacy
Parents are still well aware of their lives and may not take kindly to someone, particularly a child, abruptly stepping in and directing their business. Don’t be rude. Instead, be patient and wait for a parent to share information versus demanding it.
5. Visit Regularly
Presence and awareness of daily changes are the easiest and fastest ways to see if something funny is going on. They open up regular channels for discussion. Parents aren’t keen on discussing their lives if a child doesn’t visit more than once a year.
6. Show Them the Safe Internet as Free Information Resource
By guiding our older parents to key digital resources for financial advice and how to search for it, as well as what to avoid, you can build a means of talking about finance, teaching them and providing a platform by which to help them with guidance without lecturing. Let the internet provide the information; you should use it as a catalyst to engage closely with your parents.
7. Don't Ignore, Engage
The last thing you want to do with a parent who needs financial help is ignore them. Where there is a vacuum, it will be filled by something quickly. Older parents needing financial guidance will eventually find it in some form, which is often a scam. Even financial advisers have been easily fooled, and they’re trained in the industry. So don’t believe a scam only takes advantage of uneducated folks. In fact, the more educated a person is, the more likely a scam might work, if intricate enough. By being involved, you can see these issues coming and help your parents avoid them before getting involved. But you must be present and engaged. There’s no phone app for being an attentive child to your parents.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.