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As an adult, there’s going to come the time when your parents hit that point where suddenly there are a few conversations that need to happen. And these conversations are difficult, because they deal with things like money, insurance, death, funerals, possessions, retirement, sickness, assisted living, and all of those other topics that relate to the concept of aging.
Really, the healthiest way to approach them is be easing into them before they become ‘required’. In other words, it’s smart to talk to parents about retiring before they have to make retirement options. It’s a good idea to talk to parents about life insurance between there’s any clear sense of finality and the end of the hill on the other side. The earlier and more casually these topics come up, the better the communication will be, and the less psychologically pressing they’re going to end up.
And there are lots of resources about these topics as well, so it’s not like you have to reinvent the wheel going over any of them. Speaking to experienced counselors within each industry or topic of discussion is a good idea as well, because then you’ll have arguments and points based on fact rather than just your own personal experience and opinions.
The Conversation About Life Insurance
When it comes time to deal with life insurance, there are a number of factors to consider. When you have this discussion with your parents, the most important things to understand are what percentage of which money is going to whom, how much the premiums are, if there are tax issues at play, and if there are any clauses (for instance about different types of sicknesses or accidents) that you have to go over. There are lots of reputable life insurance companies, and the best thing that you can do is open up transparent conversations with them about all of these factors. If you, your parents, and a member of the company all sit down together, that will be the most effective way to have the discussion.
Talking About Retirement
Especially in a world where money, finances, and the economy are really in flux, talking to your folks about retirement can be a prickly topic. The world they were in when they started working is much different than the world today, and the expectations and considerations may either frustrate or surprise them. In the past, retired people might expect to be able to move to Florida and take up golfing until their twilight years expire, but now Social Security and other benefits have a very different feel to them, especially after the debacle with 401Ks and the housing bubble burst.
Getting Details of the Will Set
And it’s important to go over details of a will with your parents when they are still completely cognizant. There are some many horror stories of people getting slight cases of dementia or Alzheimer’s who haven’t knuckled down details of their wills yet, and then you have to deal with a whole lot of excess legal problems when people aren’t competent to make rational decisions. The sooner in life the will is handled, the better off all of the interest parties are going to be.
Assisted Living Options When the Time Comes
And old people will eventually need assistance in general day to day activities. Whether it’s cooking or cleaning house, or hygiene and getting around, your parents won’t always be able to do everything by themselves. That may leave you in a position where you have to decide whether to assist them yourself, have a caretaker, put them in an assisted living facility, or have them join a retirement community.
Minimizing and Redistributing Belongings
As your parents get older, you may find that they end up with a lot of stuff as well. Some of it may be practical, like furniture and clothing, and other stuff may be just memorabilia. But if you help them clean things up in terms of minimization sooner rather than later, then there will be far fewer issues down the road. This sooner you have that difficult conversation about what to keep and what to throw away, the better the overall result is going to be.