Caring for Aging Parents

Having "The Talk"



Caring for aging parents is a challenge. Face it. And sometime we have to have a "talk" with them.

Are we talking about the birds and the bees? No, not that talk.

When we are caring for aging parents it is a talk that, in some instances, that can be much harder to conduct.

I’m referring the talk we must have with our parents about their money, income, future, insurance, end of life decisions and all the things you need to know in order to see to their welfare as they grow older.

Caring for aging parent(s) and having this talk is as hard for us to face as the birds and bees talk was for them when we were young. But it is very necessary so they can be protected against the traps that lurk for our seniors.

Every home is different. Every family is different. Every situation is different. But having this talk is a must. The earlier you start the better off everyone will be.

If you are caring for aging parents, this is a MUST!!


My personal story about caring for aging parents

I took care of my aging parents until their deaths. I grew up in a home where dad was the provider, mom the caretaker and the kids were kept in the dark about finances. Our culture was that it was none of the children’s business what mom and dad had in the bank.

From time to time my mother would talk to me about how dad didn’t share information with her about their finances. She was expected to buy the groceries, cook the meals and do the laundry.

This was the way with a lot of their generation. But when my dad died in 2002 mother was at a loss. She had done little other than write a check for groceries. Never balanced the bank account, didn’t know who Merrill Lynch was, and certainly didn’t understand the working of the credit card.

So what was she supposed to do now? Thankfully I lived close, I happen to be a CPA, and I had talked to my dad about several of the things I needed to know. I knew where dad’s checking and savings accounts were located, where his investments were held, which credit cards got used, and where he kept the secret stash of cash in the house. Don’t think your parents hide money, think again!!!

My mother trusted me explicitly. I took over her finances and took care of her, made decisions for her, and paid all her bills for her.

What about your aging parents?

So have you had this talk with your aging parents? If your parent(s) were to pass away tomorrow, would you know how to handle their affairs? If your answer is “no” then the need is now!

If getting the conversation started seems like an impossible thing here are 5 suggestions to help make that first step.

  1. Pick the time to approach your parents about this. Don’t do it during a family gathering, birthday party, super bowl or any other gathering. Set a time to have dinner, spend the afternoon and talk.
  2. Ask your parents if they have an objection talking to you about their finances and final plans. Don’t force them to do this. If they don’t want to discuss this they will clam up and you will get nowhere. Respect the fact that for all their lives they have protected this area and kept it private. Don’t go busting in like a bull in a china shop.
  3. If your parents flatly refuse to cooperate, approach them separately. Go to the one you are the closest. Tell them why you are concerned. It is not about you being greedy and nosey; it is about you wanting to do your best for them.
  4. If they still refuse, talk to other influential people in their lives. Try their physician, pastor or priest, business partner, best friend, other family members like their brothers or sisters or anyone else that can talk to them unemotionally.
  5. If they still refuse then suggest that you go with them, and your other siblings, to visit a professional fiduciary. This is an independent party whose sole purpose is to protect their client and act in that person’s best interest. They can have the professional fiduciary become their Trustee, Power of Attorney or Personal Representative. See Durable Power of Attorney for more discussion of this.

This can help you start the conversation with your Parents. Present them with a copy of the Easy-PIM Workbook Series and ask them to fill it out. They will feel as if they are still in control and their information is still private. However, when you need the documents (which you will some day) you will have a source to go to for information. Buy the entire series today for a discounted price.


Hopefully, as a last resort, this person can help you get your parents off square 1 and moving in the right direction.

Don’t give up on this effort. It is very important to your future and theirs that everyone know what their desires are as they grow older.

This is truly an act of love as you care for your aging parents.

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