Whether your parents are growing old gracefully or not, most likely your parent-child relationship is changing. In helping my senior clients with personal financial management, I witness all kinds of familial relationships. Sometimes they are loving and supportive. Others are fiery and confrontational. Sometimes they are courteous yet distant. Regardless of where your relationship fits on the continuum, I invite you to look at your elderly loved one with a different perspective.
They Were Young Once
Imagine what they were like when they were young. They too were full of hope and dreams. Maybe life wasn’t easy or kind. Or, maybe they got everything they wished for. It doesn’t matter. That young person is still within them. That personality still exists; it just evolved over the years.
Their relationship with money started long before you came along. Setting aside your personal biases and opinions, I suggest really looking at how your parent’s view their assets — their home, their bank balances, their legacy. Ask yourself these questions:
What has been important to them over the years?
For some of my clients, staying involved in their church or community is paramount. For others they are most concerned with remaining independent, staying healthy enough to live in their home with few physical restrictions. Others, it’s peace of mind that a personal financial management plan is in place, ensuring they don’t outlive their money.
What help do they really need?
Oftentimes small changes can make a world of difference. Little modifications, like grab bars in the shower or a LifeAlert service, can keep a senior independent and safe. While some situations require drastic intervention, some issues can be circumvented by little changes over time.
How can I help them keep what’s important?
When you come to a place where you are in alignment with their wishes (assuming they have reasonable requests), you are now working together rather than at cross purposes. Personal financial management issues can be tricky. When a parent knows you come from a place of help, rather than of judgement or greed, conversations are easier and more productive.
One of the reasons I love what I do is that I get to connect with seniors on a daily basis. It’s amazing how a well-phrased question can light them up and engage them. At the core of it, having respect for them can open your eyes.
How might you change your perspective?