Baby boomers are taking care of their elderly parents in record numbers. A recent study from the University of Southern California's Leonard Davis School of Gerontology concluded that boomers are more committed to caring for aging parents than their own parents were.
But the desire to care for the older generation isn't always enough. It can be difficult to discuss legal, financial and long-term care decisions with older parents, especially if you've never done it before.
Many older folks also consider financial matters to be private — they may have no interest in discussing them, even with their kids. The MetLife Mature Market Institute offers these 10 tips for making the talks with parents a little easier:
Don't put it off: Initiate the conversation while your parents are still healthy. It's tempting to stall, but you will regret it later.
Involve the family: It's OK — and even beneficial — to include siblings and other family members in the discussion. Just make sure you all share the same goals. Consider meeting with them first before you go to your parents.
Declare your intentions: Let your parents know that you are starting this discussion because you're concerned and you want to make sure you do the right things as they age.
Don't take over: Your parents still have the need and right to make their own decisions. Try not to take that sense of control away from them.
Don't be a bully: You're not going to agree on everything, so don't force your opinions on them. Unless their health or safety is on the line, respect their decisions.
Communicate clearly: Try to avoid offering advice. Instead, focus on presenting them with different options. Include them in the discussion by asking for their ideas. Instead of telling them what to do, try to express your concerns.
Know where to find documentation: Ask your parents where they keep their insurance policies, wills, tax returns and other documents.
Arm them with information: Act as a resource for your parents by giving them materials to read and printing information off of reliable Web sites and other sources.
Step back and evaluate: If things aren't going well, examine your own approach to see what might be the problem. If you think they need expert advice, suggest they speak with a financial planner or lawyer.
Treat them with respect: Appreciate and respect their wisdom and experiences — and let them know you are there to support them.
By Marshall Loeb