Talking to Your Parents About Money This Thanksgiving: Care, Cash and Conversation

old woman sitting while talking with another woman

We hope you survived Thanksgiving, and maybe you even enjoyed it? If you have an aging parent, chances are that – at some point – you discussed your parent’s care, health and living status, and potentially even their finances. Money is the dreaded conversation that our parents never seem to want to have – it’s the huge, unattractive elephant in the room that lots are avoiding. Maybe you got started at Thanksgiving and can go back for round two in December? If that is the case, plan ahead.  

Unfortunately, with aging and care needs, it always seems that somehow you or your parents have to pay for everything. While lots assume that Medicare or Medicaid will step in, that just isn’t always the case. So, talking about money is something that we all are going to have to do. As with most things, sooner versus later usually proves more helpful.

While Millennials seem to be the most comfortable sharing information about salaries and the like, other generations do not follow suit. Bankrate’s The Cashlorette says that for millennials, “about 33 percent of them have shared their salary information with their co-workers — four times more than baby boomers, of whom just 8 percent has done so.” And, if you are thinking about the Greatest Generation, forget about it – I am not sure I ever heard my grandmother or grandfather talk about money, ever.

So, here is a quick cheat sheet to help with the dreaded money conversation regarding aging and care. It isn’t comprehensive, but it is a start. You of course want to take a thoughtful and respectful approach, but think about the items below as to what answers you need.  

  • What is Mom’s and/or Dad’s current health status – the true status, not just, “Oh honey, I am doing fine.” As the next answer can be, “Well okay if you really want to know, I am now on high blood pressure medication, diabetes meds, and Dad had a TIA a month ago but I didn’t think you needed to know since it wasn’t serious.”
  • Is there a plan in place if your parent needs help? I.e. caregivers, nursing homes of choice, Do Not Resuscitate orders.
  • Where are their health and financial and legal records stored?  
  • Who are their doctors and insurance providers?  
  • If they do need care, do they have plans to pay for that care?
    • If the plan is Medicaid, then there are lots of questions that need to be asked and answered about financial status, care costs, etc.  
    • Medicaid and Medicare in most instances, yes – there are a few, do not pay for in home care help.
    • Where would they go for care and do their current insurance plans pay for those places? I.e. not all nursing homes accept Medicaid or let you go from paying out of pocket to Medicaid.

There are lots more questions to ask, but this is a start. And, if you need more help, join Gentreo or visit our Resource Center.


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