There is great reluctance for many of us to want to talk to our heirs about money because its something that’s private. Furthermore, we don’t know if we can really trust our kids if we reveal to them exactly how much we have. Our fears are that they will want it now. However, it is crucially important to have a discussion with your children about money before it’s too late. Boomers like me are now working longer than our parents did, because of all of the economic challenges and turbulence that has occurred in the last 10 years.

One reason that this conversation is so challenging is that it is often indicative of feeling embarrassed about how much money one has saved. But, planning for your future is something that needs to be discussed now. The cost of caring for the aging in the country grows every year and is more astronomical than ever before. Those who don’t have this discussion leave the financial burden on their children. Many of them are simply not equipped mentally, emotionally, or financially to handle these decisions.

Holding on to our money represents independence. Part of the issue is that people don’t plan to lose financial competency. Most people don’t think about the day they can no longer manage the checkbook. Instead, they think about the days when they cannot maintain their yard, do laundry, or other everyday tasks like keeping up the home. Consequently, because people don’t think about that, they just don’t plan accordingly. They just don’t want to give up their independence.

My mother, who was in her 80’s, all of a sudden had to deal with the death of her husband of 62 years who took care of all the finances. He had done most everything online My sister and I offered my Mom the option for us to take over paying her bills, because she didn’t know how to use a computer. Now at age 86, she decided she wanted to learn how to pay her bills online using her computer. Prior to this she had expressed no interest in learning to use the computer including learning about doing anything online, let alone bill paying or e-mail. So here was an example in my own life with my own parent, because of her fierce independence, she became motivated to learn how to manage her own bills so that she would not be dependent on her own children.

I offer the suggestion of preparing yourself for the eventual possibility of losing capacity to handle your own finances. The easiest way to start the process is to begin having conversations with children or other family members about money and your wishes. Sometimes there can be conflict surrounding these conversations, but just know that there are professionals who exist to help. Discuss the possibilities of long-term care and who would handle your finances if you become unable to do so. Finally, it’s never a bad idea to write things down. This can be an easy way to keep track of conversations. If you really want to be on top of your finances, consider meeting with a fiduciary or other financial professional who can help you create a road map not only for your own care but can help you plan for what will happen with family too.

Check back next week for more from Dr. Davis on how to address the needs of aging parents and ways you can be prepared to support them in their elderly years.

With over 37 years in the practice of clinical psychology, Dr. Mikol Davis is practiced in the art of helping people of all generations and backgrounds lead better lives. He provides mental competency testing for elders, support and help with aging parents and interpersonal difficulties. He is sensitive to the changes elders must face as they age and lose independence. He is experienced in helping to reduce conflicts among family members and others. Dr. Davis received his doctorate in Psychology from the University of San Francisco in 1980. He has been in private practice in Marin County, California since 1976.

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Through developing close relationships with medical specialists, support groups and services, Dr. Davis has assisted many families with important community resources for aging loved ones. He is recognized aging expert and gerontologist.

Since founding AgingParents.com with his wife Carolyn Rosenblatt, Dr. Davis has offered important emotional support and resources for family members caring for aging parents. The emotional burden in making critical decisions about aging parents, elder care and safety can often be overwhelming for concerned family members. Dr. Davis is well versed in these subjects both personally and professionally. He assists with these difficult decisions. He provides one-on-one emotional support for the primary caregivers of elders, teaches coping skills, and helps the caregiver avoid burnout and overload. Dr. Davis is also passionate about the prevention of elder abuse.

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