Published on: May 4, 2016
by Carolyn Rosenblatt for Forbes:
Most of us have tried to have conversations about finances with aging parents. Some stubborn parents just won’t do it. No matter what their adult children say, they put it off, change the subject or tell their offspring it’s none of their business. Here’s a real life example.
Michele, 60 is trying to get some very basic information about her mother’s accounts so she can help her mother when the time comes. Her mother, Eva, is 85, a widow, lives alone and has been secretive all her life. Michele is her only child and she cares very much about her Mom, always trying to protect her as she ages. But Eva won’t budge. She lives across the country from Michele and is not willing to move closer to her daughter. When Michele brings up the reality that Eva has no other family to help her and if an accident happened, Michele wouldn’t even know where to find the checks to pay bills, Eva says they can talk about that later. She’s not ready yet. Michele is feeling lost now. She doesn’t even know what to say next. Why is Eva being so difficult? It’s just not rational.
What’s underneath all that stubborn refusal when parents rebuff your reasonable efforts to get the basics about finances from them? It’s fear. Many elders are truly afraid that as they get older and feel less capable than they once were someone will come along and put them in a home. Physical and mental changes happen to them. They don’t want to be put away because of these things. “A home” in their minds is a dark poorhouse, where old people are forced to go, like a sort of prison. They will lose control over their lives. No wonder they are afraid. Breaking through that fear, much of it based on lack of information, requires understanding and strategy.
Many older people have fear of being put in some horrible place because it happened to people they knew growing up, in the days before Medicare and Medicaid. Things are different now, but an elder’s knowledge of options as they age may just not be there. If you have an aging parent who refuses to tell you what she has and where to access it, you need to have a plan.
Here are three things you can to do help yourself break through their resistance.
Getting past a stubborn aging parent’s fear about even discussing finances can be daunting. But a well planned strategy in how to approach the subject will give you your best chance.
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