We Need to Talk, Part 2
By: Laura Chiesman
Family life is an ongoing adventure and as life expectancies increase so does the need to talk about the present and future needs of parents or other older loved ones.
As I noted in an earlier blog, studies1 show that nearly 30% of Americans provide some type of care or assistance to their parents. This assistance may be financial or hands on care…or both. Even as millions of families face this situation there is a reluctance to talk about it. According to a study1 by AgeWave, over 75% of adults have not had in-depth conversations with their parents about the plans, wishes and available resources for their later years.
It’s easy to put off these talks. No one enjoys bringing up old age, long term care and assistance needs, possible future illnesses and disability. It is especially difficult to talk about finances and to determine if family members will need to pitch in to provide for a parent’s needs. Fear, pride, self-reliance, and life-long patterns get in the way and so we wait and everything goes along fine…until it doesn’t! When health and capabilities begin to change, things can happen very quickly. Having to make decisions on the fly, during times of stress and high emotion can lead to less than optimal effects on finances, emotions and relationships.
Many times there are multiple siblings involved which may lead to issues including differing levels of: involvement, opinions on care needed, availability of time and resources, proximity to the parents and the list goes on. An ‘all hands on deck’ meeting is a great idea to ensure that Mom and Dad’s wishes and needs are understood and everyone is on the same page.
So where to start? Approaching this like a business meeting can be very helpful. Start with preparation before the meeting – decide who will attend, share the responsibility of gathering important documents and financial information, develop an agenda and set a time, place and length for the meeting. Some families use a meeting leader or facilitator to help organize and keep the meeting on track.
Here are some starter topics for your agenda:
Current and future living and care arrangements – are those arrangements working, and a plan for future living arrangements
Legal documents – do they have estate planning and any other legal documents
Finances – a plan to pay bills now and possibly for long-term care later; who has access to financial information
The family caregivers – who will do what and when
Outside help – what resources are needed to ensure the health, safety and happiness of your loved one’s
A well thought out meeting provides wonderful opportunities for a family to learn more about, and to unite, the generations of our families. If you need help planning for the future – yours or your parent’s – please feel welcome to contact one of our WealthCoaches at our wealth services firm in Satellite Beach, FL.
1 2013, July. Family & Retirement: The Elephant In The Room. Retrieved from http://agewave.com/
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