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How to Approach a Senior Loved One About Finances

May 2, 2023

Conversations around finances are never easy. Especially, when those conversations are with our loved ones who may not be able to care for themselves anymore. Talking about finances can be an uncomfortable and stressful situation for both parties. Elders who were once the breadwinners of the household and keepers of the family financials may not be open to sharing their finances with their adult children. On the other hand, the children may dread questioning their parents about their finances because they don’t want to overstep or come off as prying. Whether it’s opting for senior living options or preparing for in-home care, these uncomfortable conversations need to be had to better support your senior loved ones and their future wishes. We’ll discuss how to ease into financial conversations, how to introduce assisted living at the right time, and helpful financial tips that will empower your senior loved one and you.

How to make uncomfortable conversations comfortable

When speaking to a senior loved one about finances, approach with caution. Schedule the right place and time to have a conversation about their finances. Make sure it takes place in a secluded area where you both can be comfortable speaking freely and honestly. Also, the entire conversation doesn’t have to center around money. The objective of the conversation is to see where your loved one is financially but instead of a direct approach, try asking questions such as “Do you think this home is still appropriate for you?” or “Do you need any help with household chores?” or “Has it been difficult to pay your healthcare premiums by yourself?” Asking questions about their home, health, or insurance plan may help gauge when to steer the conversation into finances and give you an idea of how to assist your loved one in making the right healthcare decisions for themselves. 

Making difficult decisions for the better

If a senior can no longer maintain the maintenance of the home, constantly forgets doctor’s appointments, or had a physical accident and hurt themselves, now is the perfect time to suggest senior living communities as an option. This can be scary for your loved one to grasp because they may feel they’re at risk of losing their independence, but there are different options for your loved one to transition into senior living communities. For instance, if your loved one still lives in the family home you grew up in that consists of 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and a huge backyard they can no longer afford to keep up with, it may be time to consider independent living communities. Independent living still allows elders to live on their own with little to no assistance. These communities offer many living options from apartments to full-sized homes. An ideal option for seniors who are still capable of taking care of themselves while maintaining a smaller home.

Assisted living communities offer seniors independence balanced with occasional assistance with various daily activities. The living spaces range from 2-bedroom apartments to small residential care homes that house a few seniors who share a common living room and dining area. Home healthcare is another option that allows seniors to get the healthcare services they need without ever leaving their homes. These are just a few options your senior loved one can choose from depending on their financial situation.

Tips on how to afford assisted living

The average cost of assisted living is estimated at $4,500 a month adding up to $54,000 annually according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. If your loved one is not able to sustain enough income for senior living, then they may want to consider a few other ways to incorporate more financial assistance:

  1. Long-term insurance - designed to cover long-term services such as seniors’ homes, assisted living facilities, nursing care units, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities. Seniors can choose a range of care options and benefits and long-term coverage reimburses policyholders up to a certain amount per day.
  1. Bridge loans - short-term loans that can help homeowners acquire cash quickly for urgent situations. It can be used to pay assisted living expenses while liquidating assets or waiting for the home to sell.
  1. Reverse mortgages - allow seniors or their families to receive a sum or monthly payments for as long as they live in the home. No payments are required until they sell or move out of the home.
  1. Selling your home - can free up funds to help pay for care such as assisted living, nursing home, or memory care. It takes away the burden of maintaining a home and mortgage. Depending on how quickly the senior needs to move into senior care, families may have to decide when the right time is to sell (before or after).

Talking about finances with your loved one can be intimidating but also benefit both parties in the long run. Make sure this is a collaboration conversation. Otherwise, you may face pushback and resentment. Know this is a team effort and in the end, your loved one has the last word over how and where they chose to live despite their health and financial conditions.

If you have a senior loved one looking to explore senior living options, we are here to help. Contact your local senior advisor at (888)455-5838.