BOSTON (CBS) – As an adult child you may have begun to worry about the physical decline in your parents.

They can’t maintain their garden without some help. Dad needs you to help him put in the air conditioners. Mom is having trouble balancing her checkbook. They are both getting quite forgetful; bills aren’t paid. Lights, or worse the stove, have been left on.

All signs of normal aging. Nothing to be concerned with. But what if they need more than a Saturday afternoon of your time?

What if they need financial help to stay in their home? Are you prepared? Are they?

This may be the hardest conversation you have ever had with your parents. Harder than the sex talk (if there ever was one). They don’t want to talk about money, selling their home, or their driving ability.

If you have siblings, get them involved. Who is going to take the lead in this? And be prepared to ask some tough and awkward questions.

Expect their answer to be, “It is none of your business” or “Why does that concern you?” Don’t give up! Their well-being depends on their having enough income and assets to maintain their lifestyle. Some questions to consider:

  • Are they concerned about running out of money?
  • Do they need your help? Physically or financially?
  • Have they done their estate planning? Where are the wills? Who is the executor?
  • Where are the important papers of their lives? Do they need help organizing them (now that you are such an expert on organizing)? The estate planning documents, the financial statements, etc.
  • Do they have an adequate income? Enough money saved?
  • If something happens to one of them is the other provided for? Would Dad’s pension stop if he should die first? Do they both understand the family finances?
  • Do they have life insurance? Long-term care insurance? Medigap insurance? Homeowners insurance?
  • Have they considered alternative housing?
  • Are they worried about losing their driver’s license and their ability to drive?

Some scary data; the average American woman can expect to spend 17 years caring for a child and 18 years caring for an elderly parent.


You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.


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