Talking About Money – The Elephant In The Room

My parents taught me it wasn’t polite to talk about money. To this day, I have no idea how much my parents income was over the years nor what they have in savings. That’s not even getting into their wills, estate planning or types of insurance they may or may not have. Every day, I hear the same from peers – the bulk of people really don’t know what kind of future their parents are prepared for.

Generally, most families just chug along without transparency around Advanced Care Planning, Estate/Trust or wealth management. Talking about senior care and aging in place is entirely centered on the physical – accessibility, transportation, wearables, independent living, skilled nursing….. Not a word about Financial Caregiving. The challenges of Medicare, bill pay, savings and care spending are given little to no attention. Not to mention that our senior community is in the crosshairs of scammers at an alarming rate each & every day.

Seniors lose an estimated $2.9 billion annually from financial exploitation, according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

Impersonating the IRS was the number one scam targeting seniors in 2018.

One in 10 Americans age 65 or older who lives at home will become a victim of abuse, according to recent testimony from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

How do most begin to understand their parents’ financial runway? When a crisis rears it’s ugly head – a fall, a hospitalization, a sudden illness. Then, it’s a mad dash to understand eldercare law, uncover if there a Power Of Attorney in place, what the money situation may be, does Medicare &/or the secondary even cover what is happening…. By the way, who is paying all the regular household bills during the crisis?

Financial trends show that a conversation around savings & assets is essential. The rate at which the senior population is filing for bankruptcy has more than 3x what it was in 1991.Far and away, the cost of health care is driving this scary statistic. It doesn’t matter what your net worth may be – the impact of health care spending affects all Americans.

So, why aren’t we having conversations with loved ones that lift the veil on finance and home so everyone can age as they wish? Believe it or not, parents don’t want to hear their offspring’s opinion on how they’ve accrued or plan to spend their life’s savings. From how much the landscaper costs to how much they have in cash reserves is deeply personal. Autonomy and preserving the parent-child dynamic is critical to a senior’s identity. Having to disclose this information can flip the script on who is in charge in the relationship & can be damaging. Maybe it’s best to leave sleeping dogs lie? No.

The key is not to TAKE OVER for your loved ones. INSTEAD empower them with the tools that create efficiencies around their household budget, inform them about their housing options and can forecast long term costs. From a place of love, your first inclination may be to step in to manage or advise. Therein, you’re disrupting the parent/child relationship that is even more sensitive at this stage of the game. Arming the senior population with resources and accredited advisors that allow them to maintain control over their checkbook and home is the best solution. It will not only create additional security around their savings & assets but will also extend their ability to self manage – an emotional must.

What tools & resources are available? Information is power. Your local senior center holds educational seminars every week that will arm you & your loved ones with the intricacies of senior finance & insurance. Take advantage of these resources. In home options are readily available as well in the form of Certified Senior Advisors. These are wonderful for the household that needs individualized attention and regular support. Having a go to professional that can verify the monthly spending, coordinate claims processing between insurances, help with general organization or just be a sounding board is the key to peace of mind for you & your loved ones.

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