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Talking to elderly parents about their finances

Discover the importance of discussing finances, addressing common concerns, and understanding financial wellbeing.

September 28, 2023

Happy family helping elderly manage budget

Financial discussions with elderly parents are often complicated, and talking to them about managing their finances could be even more sensitive. However, open communication about this topic is important to ensure their financial wellbeing, plan for their future, and provide ongoing money management support.

Whether it's discussing possible future care needs, making a financial budget plan, or just listening to their plans for later life, these conversations could be helpful to have a better understanding of their wishes. It is important to have these talks to ensure that they have everything they need and to make decisions about their future.

In this article, we'll explore the importance of talking to elderly parents about finances, common financial concerns they may face, and how to approach this conversation with care.

Importance of talking to elderly parents about finances

Old man with his daughter meeting financial advisor

Financial security

As your parents age, having conversations about their finances becomes important to ensure they have sufficient help for retirement and unforeseen expenses. They may have earned wealth over the years, which might make them think they don't need assistance. It's important to be aware of this and to bring up the topic early. This way, you can help them more easily if they need it in the future.

Healthcare costs

Healthcare expenses increase with age. Understanding their healthcare coverage and possible overhead expenses can help you plan accordingly. NHS provides many healthcare services, offering older adults a wide range of medical services and treatments at no direct cost. However, certain medications, elective procedures, and specialised care may not be fully covered.

Estate planning

It's necessary to discuss their wills and beneficiaries to confirm their assets are distributed per their wishes. Ensuring your parents have a will, power of attorney, and advance health care declaration is important. By following these steps, they can appoint someone to make financial and healthcare decisions for them if they can no longer do so. This can provide peace of mind for both your parents and you. By being proactive, you can avoid such challenges and ensure your parents' wishes are honoured.

Debt management

Elderly loved ones may have collected debt over the years, including mortgages, loans, or credit card debts. Ongoing discussions about debt can help develop plans to address and reduce it. To prioritise debts, you should first have a clear picture of the outstanding balances, interest rates, and the urgency of repayment. Make sure to keep your parents involved and work with them to create a structured repayment plan that considers their income and budget. This plan should outline how much money can be allocated towards monthly debt repayment. It's important to ensure that minimum payments are made on all debts to avoid penalties.

Preventing elder financial abuse

Scammers often target older adults due to their lack of familiarity with technology. To prevent them from falling victim to financial fraud, advise them not to give out personal information to strangers, hang up on cold callers, and not let anyone into their home unless they are confident that they are genuine. In the unfortunate event of a successful scam, notify the bank or pension provider immediately.

Peace of mind

Understanding your parents' financial position provides peace of mind for both you and them. It can help you prepare a financial budget plan for your parents, reduce worries about their future care plans, and ensure they receive the care they need.


Approaching the discussion on finances with elderly loved ones

Daughter discussing finances with elderly parents


Talking about finances with elderly loved ones is a sensitive topic that requires a transparent approach. It's important to create a safe environment where they can feel comfortable discussing their financial goals and worries. Find a quiet, relaxed setting where you can talk without interruptions. Ensure your parents are comfortable and not distracted. 

Begin the conversation by expressing your genuine care and concern for their wellbeing without being critical or judgmental about their financial decisions. Keep in mind that this is an ongoing process, and trust-building is essential, so encourage your parents to share their financial concerns, fears and goals without interruption.

If they are open to it, offer to help manage their finances or find professional financial advice. Assure them that your intention is to help, not take control. Ultimately, having this discussion with empathy and understanding can promote better financial planning and ensure their financial security as they age. Some tips to start a conversation about this can include:

Discuss the importance of planning for the future

It's common for older adults to remain independent, maintain their lifestyle and provide an inheritance for their children, even after their demise. However, many older adults would prefer to take the help of a financial advisor to create a retirement or estate plan. It's important to clarify to them that without proper planning, a difficult process of seeking power to manage their healthcare and finances might have to be adopted. They might also need to rely on private health insurance to cover their long-term care expenses. Additionally, some of their assets could be subject to unexpected taxes or taken away from family after they pass away, depending on the circumstances.

Identify and process your own feelings first

Before you decide to talk to your parent, make sure to identify and understand your own feelings. Talking about financial wellbeing is an emotional interaction. You may be annoyed, angry, frustrated, sad, or scared about their circumstances. Understanding your own feelings will help you communicate more effectively and avoid any misunderstandings. Make sure to share in an empathetic tone, approach the conversation calmly, and be willing to listen.

Allow your elderly parents to be in control wherever possible

As we grow older, our physical and mental health may decline, and we may feel like we are losing control. It can be challenging for elderly parents to admit that they need more support. When discussing financial matters with them, ensure to communicate that you are not trying to take over their life but simply offering to help them as they age. Allow them to decide what they want to handle and when they want to address it, as this will show your support without taking away their independence. Have a conversation with your parents about how you can help them follow the financial roadmap they have created for themselves. Let them know that you want to respect their wishes in life and in death, but to do so, you must clearly understand their preferences.


Seeking professional guidance

If you find your parent's financial situation complicated, seeking professional guidance may be helpful. Consider consulting with a financial advisor or estate planning attorney. Financial experts can provide useful understanding and help you and your parents make informed decisions. 

Caring for an elderly parent is hard for so many reasons. Still, several organisations may be able to help you with support in providing care, financial concerns, and emotional support. If you're a carer and you want to make your parent's home more accessible, you can arrange for a home assessment by contacting your local council. Also, you can avail of financial support from the government, including the Carer's Allowance and the personal independence payment. These benefits can help you pay for the care your parents need. 

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