Our Families: Our Elders

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Let’s focus on mom today because most often it is our mother we will probably help in her declining years, for she has outlived dad.

Talking to your mom about awkward subjects won’t be easier just because you are now grown up. Most mothers still view their children as kids. 

A family gathering like Thanksgiving may be a good time to talk to mom especially if you have had to travel far to be together. But not at the dinner table. Quietly one on one. Maybe while you are peeling vegetables.

Trying to solve major problems at the dinner table only works in the make believe world of TV families. On the program Blue Bloods, they get to solve all of their problems around the Sunday dinner table. If you have siblings chat with them beforehand so you are a united front when you begin this process.

Bring up the fact that you’ve just heard a financial planner and you realize how much you needed to organize your affairs. Talk about the general benefits such as knowing where things are, what estate planning documents you need and the need to start the process.

Ask mom if she has done any of this. She may surprise you and say yes. And then tell you that everything is in her desk or in the closet.

But 60% of adults do not have a will. So you may need to encourage her do some estate planning.

Ask the tough questions gently in a roundabout way. Talk about someone she knows in a nursing home and then ask her if she is concerned about needing a nursing home. Has she thought about long term care insurance? Does she have long term care insurance?

Ask her if she has any concerns about outliving her money? The minute the word “money” comes up she may get suspicious and think you are after hers. Assure her you just want to help. Persevere here!

Your mom could be having money problems and doesn’t want you to know. Also bring up the subject of credit cards and credit card debt. Many retirees love the shopping channels!

One more thing: Offer to help her organize her stuff. Start with a list of the important people in her life and their phone numbers. But be reciprocal here; be sure she has the list of the important people in your life and how to contact them if something should happen to you.

Remember this is a process, a slow process. And this will only work if your mom wants your help. If she's not ready put it on the back burner but don’t give up on it. Remind her also that she needs to do her estate planning.

There is a Document Locator worksheet on my website. Download it for mom to fill out.

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

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