Posts Tagged "aging parents"

Talking About Finances

Posted by on Apr 14, 2013 in Financial and Tax Matters, Power of Attorney | 0 comments

Many families experience problems with financial discussions – and therefore avoid them. The older generation may avoid discussions with adult children out of fear of losing privacy and control. Adult children may wish to respect a parent’s privacy but they wonder – not only about a parent’s well-being, but also whether a parent’s finances could affect their own retirement plans. In other families, money is a taboo subject or one that simply brings up too many negative emotions.  Why do adult children need to talk about money with their aging parents? First, knowing a parent’s situation can help adult children plan their own financial future. Second, being aware is especially important if an adult child has been appointed financial power of attorney for their parent. Third, a trusted adult child can stay alert and offer support when an older person’s health issues make dealing with finances more demanding.  As we get older, dealing with chronic health problems, pain, medication side effects, and vision loss are among our physical challenges. There are mental and emotional challenges, too. They can include increased anxiety and depression, as well life changes, such as losing a spouse (who may have been responsible for finances). All these factors can make dealing with money matters more challenging.   Here are some early signs that finances are getting more challenging, either for loved ones or for ourselves:   Trouble balancing bank statements Unpaid bills, notices or statements stacking up Penalties for late payment or services and utilities being cut off Trouble reading fine print or understanding financial notices More stress about paying bills and looking after finances Changed spending patterns or behaviour So where can we start if we have concerns? Here are some strategies for adult children that can help open doors with this sensitive subject.   Assist with minor, routine tasks. For example, suggest automatic debits for recurring bills or help introduce someone to on-line banking. This can give you some insight into someone’s finances. Once bigger issues or tasks arise later, working in tandem won’t seem such a drastic change.   Ask for their insights. If someone seems financially aware and is an active investor, start a conversation about investments to get a sense of their approach. Alternately, set the stage by asking about older persons’ insights from experiences such as the Great Depression or other financial setbacks. In the process, personal values can be uncovered, and that can create greater trust and open doors for deeper discussion.   Ask them to help give you peace of mind. Let your parents know you’ve been concerned and that you would feel better if you knew more about their plans. Point out that you could be the “go to” person who will need information in a crisis. If you have read or know of a case where a family was financially unprepared, sharing their story can provide food for thought.   Once trust is established, ask to participate in financial planning. It’s no secret that investment options today can be complex. Sound financial advice is more important than ever. If your parent uses an advisor, ask if you can come to a meeting with their advisor – as an observer. Notice whether your parents are following along and involved with the conversation. If they don’t have an advisor, encourage them to get appropriate financial advice.   When should we begin? Ideally, start conversations even before you notice warning signs. Because retirement planning and financial planning are closely tied, this is a good trigger event for starting a dialogue. Another milestone may be when parents turn 65 or 70; at...

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Parents Who Won’t Accept Help

Posted by on Feb 7, 2012 in Caregiving, Family Relationships, Sensitive Conversations | 0 comments

Originally published at www.thestar.com on September 3, 2010. Seniors resist help at home Susan Pigg, Living Reporter More than half of seniors resist asking for help, even from their adult children, fearing it signals a neediness that could land them in a nursing home, a new study shows. That fierce resistance is playing out in so many family squabbles — from the silent treatment to bitter turf wars between aging parents and their grown kids — that the home-care agency Home Instead Senior Care has just launched a series of online self-help videos, one of them focusing on communication. “This is a big problem for family caregivers,” says Bruce Mahony, owner of Home Instead’s Toronto office. “If seniors admit they need help, they think their independence is in question. They worry about losing control of their affairs.” Fifty-one per cent of 24,147 adult caregivers surveyed across Canada and the U.S. by Home Instead Senior Care from 2004 to 2009 say their aging relatives can be so reluctant to accept help, they fear for their safety. Some worry their elderly parents are forgetting to eat meals or take medications in a misguided bid to maintain their independence. Others are managing to hobble along with considerable help from elderly partners who are getting sick struggling to keep up appearances that all is well, elder-care experts say. But a big part of the problem is baby boomer children who feel the overwhelming need to parent their parents, says Mara Osis, co-founder of Calgary-based ElderWise Inc. which offers “family coaching” and advice via the book Your Aging Parents: How to Prepare, How to Cope. “We stress that you are not your parents’ parent. You need to see each other as two adults of different generations trying to work out a problem,” says Osis. The struggles can be even more complicated if the parent is suffering from early dementia and feels confused and threatened by any changes or in-home help from strangers. “Boomers are used to being very much in control of everything in their lives and being able to effect change, so when they see that they are getting push back from their parents, it’s an unfamiliar role. “Sometimes the adult child creates their own problems by saying, ‘I’m just going to fix mom and dad and their situation because the solution is very simple from my point of view.’ ” Read the complete article   ...

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Home alone – not anymore. Your adult child is back.

Posted by on Mar 28, 2011 in Family Relationships, Financial and Tax Matters | 0 comments

Originally published at www.investorsgroup.com. Used with permission. Call ‘em Boomerang Kids or KIPPERS (Kids In Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement  Savings) – but by any name, the number of adult children living with their parents is on the rise. And for Boomers, that can be a double whammy because many are being sandwiched between caring for their adult children and for their aging parents. A recent survey* of Boomers revealed that four-in-ten who care for both children and parents say they have been forced to reduce the amount they’re investing for retirement, one-quarter say they have adopted a less comfortable lifestyle, and one-quarter expressed concern that this financial assistance will jeopardize their retirement security. There’s no doubt that having adult children at home creates financial challenges by increasing the cost of living, creating a drag on savings, and even causing a loss of freedom. Here are some practical ideas about how to reduce stress, hard feelings and avoid potential financial disaster: • Pay to stay: Treat your child as an adult and try to replicate ‘real world’ conditions by having them contribute to household expenses, chores, and even pay rent. If they aren’t employed, encourage them to actively seek work. • Invest in a secure future: As an alternative to paying rent, insist that your adult child establishes an investment plan to help pay a future down payment on their own home. • Tax relief: If your stay-at-home adult kid is also a student and has no tax to pay, you can relieve some of the pinch on your finances by taking advantage of unused federal tuition and education credits (combined). Up to $750 can be transferred from the student to a parent. (Provincial tax credits may also be available.) • Define ‘rent’: Is your child paying you fair market value rent or just enough to cover their share of home upkeep and the cost of groceries? If it’s the latter, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) says you don’t need to report that income on your tax return but you cannot deduct expenses. If you attempt to claim a rental loss, the CRA will put you to the test of proving the rental rate is at fair market value, and there is a reasonable expectation of profit. With children taking longer to become self-sufficient and aging parents expected to live longer, Boomers could be in for a rough ride. The first step is to talk openly with your children about money and responsibility. And a good second step is to discuss your situation with your professional advisor to make sure your financial plans stay on track. *Boomers on Call Survey, 2009 – Harris/Decima for Investors Group.  Guest article provided by Investors Group Financial Services. © Investors Group. Reprinted with permission. This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Québec – a Financial Services Firm), presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments. DISCLAIMER: ElderWise is pleased to feature the work of guest authors and appreciate their insight and expertise. Any opinions or advice expressed by these guest authors are their own, and may not necessarily reflect the views of ElderWise.  ElderWise does not assume responsibility for any decision or action taken as a result of information presented. Please seek professional advice and perform adequate due diligence before taking action....

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Help With Family Visits

Posted by on Dec 16, 2010 in Family Relationships | 0 comments

Some of us look forward to visiting our aging parents or our adult children – others not so much. We may live nearby, seeing each other often, but some of us make only occasional visits. For occasional visitors, it’s an opportunity see, hear, touch and sense what’s happening with our loved ones. The result can be joy and relief, or it can be growing concern and frustration. Visits can get weighed down with tradition and habits. Some of these are welcome, others leave us feeling that we have not progressed in our relationships or in dealing with matters important to the family. If you feel frustrated, consider these causes and some ways of dealing with them: What keeps some families “stuck”? Denial and avoidance. These traits are part of human nature. Showing compassion towards others AND ourselves can keep emotions in check. Old hurts, entrenched behaviours, and fear of conflict. Recognizing our “family drama” is the first step towards re-writing our story. Overwhelming size or number of concerns. Breaking the problems into manageable parts and setting priorities can help. Feeling powerless. Lack of confidence, skills or support may make you feel like giving in or giving up. What you can do: Inform yourself and others of the facts, issues and options. Whether it’s a health, financial, caregiving or lifestyle concern, sharing new information can be a neutral – even welcome – first step. Prepare others for talking about important matters. Give advance notice of what’s on your mind – to your aging parent or your adult child. Resolve to say or do something different this time. Using the same old approach and expecting different results just sets you up for frustration. Build trust first. Try to show that you understand another person’s values, needs and fears, before advancing your own opinions and agenda. Look for shared solutions that consider everyone’s interests. Taking too strong a position, whether you are the parent or adult child, may affect the well-being of another family member. Set realistic objectives and take small steps. Major life changes are a process, not an event. Quick and simple just doesn’t apply. Close any discussions by trying to get agreement on next steps. Keep things in perspective. Limit the time and energy you devote to your concerns. Relax and enjoy the holiday. Once the visit is over, reflect on and celebrate your progress, no matter how small. Persist, gently and consistently, keeping everyone involved and engaged in the process.   Vol. 6, No. 12, © ElderWise 2010 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.  ...

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Options for Senior Moves

Posted by on Sep 8, 2010 in Living Arrangements | 0 comments

When aging parents experience health or mobility changes, family discussions can quickly turn to the topic of downsizing or moving to a care home vs. staying at home. Parents may want to keep their “independence”. Adult children may worry about elderly parents’ isolation, safety, or the amount of support they are able to offer.  These are seldom easy discussions. Strong emotions can bring out the worst in families that have poor communication skills and less-than-ideal relationships. Even in families who get along well, discussing such a major life change can be tough to handle. Before you start these discussions, both sides should look at their assumptions and level of knowledge about the options. “You’re not putting me in a nursing home!”  “I wish people knew more about the wide range of living options out there,” says Marilyn Moldowan, a Calgary realtor with 20 years specific experience in helping seniors find their next home. She encounters many people who believe – incorrectly – that it’s a direct, non-stop trip between the family home and a care home.  “We can start de-mystifying the perception of what’s out there, so people aren’t making knee-jerk decisions out of fear,” she says. One example Moldowan gives is condominium ownership. Condos are often equated only with high-rise apartment living. In fact, there are age-restricted condo projects of many types, specifically built for mature buyers. They include no-maintenance options such as villa-style homes, with single attached or detached houses and indoor and outdoor common areas. When the concerns are more about health care than home maintenance, options still abound.  Initially, extra help and support can be brought into the family home, as well as introduced  into other private independent retirement living situations. Private “assisted living” options typically provide an even higher level of care, including meal preparation, medication management, and personal care. “Many people balk at the monthly cost of these options,” says Moldowan, “but when I ask them to look at their current total living costs – including food, utilities, repairs and taxes – it starts to look more reasonable. Plus, someone else is doing the work behind the scenes. That frees up the family to be family again – and allows the elderly person more time and energy for social and leisure opportunities.”  “Ninety- to ninety-five per cent of the senior moves I’m involved in are due to a health crisis,” says Moldowan. That’s why it’s always a good idea to plan ahead. The main thing is to realize that options exist. These can include staying independent while moving to a smaller, newer home (i.e., fewer repairs, smaller yard). It can mean renting in a retirement residence or exploring the many condo ownership options designed for the older demographic. And it means being aware of housing options like assisted living and long term care homes, which offer greater support when it’s needed in the future.  Vol. 5, No. 9, © ElderWise Publishing 2009. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE...

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