Spending time with your folks when you’re an adult can be a wonderful, enriching experience. You have the opportunity to develop a new aspect to your relationship, that of becoming close friends in addition to your existing roles as parent and child. Many women find this is a time that they enjoy very much, with the dynamics between you and your Mom and Dad changing to become less authoritarian and more relaxed. Appreciating this special time is essential, for old age can bring with it frailties and a reduction in stamina, so it’s important to make the most of the time you have together as active adults.
What you need to consider as your parents get older
There are some things you need to think about during this time that will help your folks ease into their retirement and enjoy the freedoms and opportunities of later life without having anything unnecessary to worry about. Unless there’s any pressing need to address issues straight away, this is just a preparatory stage, where you talk about what your parents would like for their future. Take their home, for example. If they are living in the house in which they raised their children, it could be that as they get older, it becomes a chore to manage a place of that size when there’s no requirement for it. You can discuss options like downsizing, which would enable them to finish paying their mortgage or release some capital for them to spend on themselves. If they prefer to stay where they are, do they need to get some help around the home?
Your parents’ attitudes to discussing their finances with you can vary from stonewalling to handing over all their accounts. You can only help them if they need and want your help, so don’t make an issue out of their position either way. If they are willing to share things with you, just check on a couple of key topics:
- Have they made a will? Asking about willscan provoke a defensive response in some people, who may be concerned that you are looking to benefit personally. Be clear that you’re not so much interested in what the will says, just that they have made one so that their wishes can be carried out.
- Do they have life insurance for seniors? This is a good way to cover expenses and deal with any liabilities and may be essential if one partner plans to stay in the home after the other has passed away.
- Are the records of all their investments and holdings kept somewhere safe, where they can be found and easily accessed when required?
Remember, this is not about taking over your parents’ lives or interfering with what they do. If they wish to sell their home, move into an apartment and spend six months of the year overseas, that’s their prerogative, and it should be respected. You just want them to know you are there if they need you, and that you want to make sure they live a long and happy life.