One of the unwanted challenges that faces may individuals and families face is watching parents move into old age. In many cases the costs—both financially and emotionally—to families is substantial. Many aging adults don’t have enough money to support themselves; over a third depend exclusively on Social Security1.
During this time there are a few key transitions that we see our clients and their parents go through. Consider whether and how your financial plan is prepared for these kinds of changes.
- Change of Pace: You may notice your parents are slowing down a bit or you see that they should be slowing down. They might even still be working, but at the end of the day, they seem a little more tired than they used to be. This is the time when they could use more hands-on help: assisting with tasks around the house, or fixing things, or checking in on them more frequently than in the past. You can pay a handyman or a cleaning lady to help or you can do it yourself.
- Change of Health Stability: Perhaps it’s the first fall or other signs of loss of medical independence, one of the hardest transitions to watch a parent go through is seeing their health falter. While in many cases this can entail a more critical illness like cancer or heart disease, it is often the after affects that have to be considered: do they need additional care? Would the help of a nurse or care assistant during the week be helpful?
- Change of Independence: Many seniors don’t want to move after retirement; they want to remain as independent as possible. But for a lot of late retirees, just keeping up the residence becomes a physical challenge. This can be a difficult discussion with a parent, especially if the house they are living in has been a long-term family home. Just know that for a large percentage of seniors some form of transitional housing or assisted living plays a role in healthy aging, and it can be a real positive if handled well at the right time.
It can often be helpful for families to all be dealing with the same financial advisor to help navigate the needs from one generation to another. Seek out professionals who are well-versed in the tools and resources available for seniors so that you have a resource to fall back on.
Questions to Consider:
- What conversations have been had with your parents (and siblings, if any) to make sure that everyone is on the same page long before one of the transition takes place?
- What is the state of your parents’ estate plan and medical directives?
- Does your current plan for yourself include tools and strategies to ensure that you won’t be dependent on your own children?
- Does your financial advisor help you with multi-generational planning so that not just your personal savings, but the financial health of your whole family is addressed?
- Who do you know who has gone through this with their parents? What could you learn from their experiences?
1 US Census Bureau, June 2014