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Caregiving for Parents Part I – Helping Those Who Have Helped Us

Matt Meline

, CFP®

Founder and CEO

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Part 1

Sometime in the last few years I, along with many of my clients and friends, have noticed a shift in the parent-child-grandparent continuum. Thinking it would be a great bonding experience I challenged my 24 year old son to join me and climb a 14,000 foot mountain in his now-home state of Colorado. Somewhere above where the trees end and the oxygen disappears I realized I was in trouble. It was Matthew Jr. who stepped in and encouraged me to keep going while I gasped my way, very slowly, up the hill. The ground shifted in our roles because he could see I needed help. We made it to the top and, similar to my marathon experience of years past, a big mountain climbing experience will NOT be repeated! Upon reflection, it made me realize that at some point they don’t need us in the same way they did when they were young. Also surprisingly, we need them now and will likely need them even more in the future.

In similar fashion we have watched as our parents have required our assistance. The topics vary, but our presence in their day to day lives has increased. Things that used to be simple become more complicated and health concerns, especially during a pandemic, are top-of-mind. This can become a delicate balancing act as we become, in either small or large fashion, a caregiver. Financial, health care, and living will decisions create tension as we want what’s best but, true to many people’s nature, we resist change.

Becoming a caregiver to a family member or loved one will probably occur at some point in your life, whether it’s due to an unexpected circumstances or the aging process. If you already are a caregiver or know someone who is, you may have some stories about how overwhelming it can be – emotionally and otherwise.   Caregiving requires love, time and patience. The financial aspect of caregiving often doesn’t get the proper attention it requires.‍

What to do? 

1. Start bringing tomorrow into today

Things can change quickly with our family members and both their financial and health care situations. When these changes catch us unprepared, it can cause panic and poor decision making. Opening up these conversations about where our family stands financially, arranging powers of attorney and assembling documents may not work best in a rush. These conversations also require compassion and patience. That’s why we encourage everyone to begin thinking, and talking, about these issues in the near term.

When we approached our family about getting more involved we definitely experienced some push back. Why do you want to know? We don’t need any help! Things are fine as they are!

What we have tried to do is present ourselves as a partner in the process, not an adversary. We’ve also gone very slow and offered up suggestions over time rather than all at once. Many of my clients have been successful by serving as a document organizer to open up the conversation.

Some other conversations starters include:

  • How are you feeling about your financial situation?  Does anything have you especially concerned?
  • We worry about the economy and the markets sometimes. Is there anything going on right now that has you worried?
  • We’ve been working hard to get organized lately– would that be something we can help you with?
  • Our attorney, CPA and financial advisor have been a big help to our family. Do you have professionals that you work with?  Would you be open to us meeting with them to see where we might be able to help?

Getting the ball rolling is often the most difficult, but most important step in this process. We will be following up with some additional ideas and financial tips to help those of you now serving or contemplating the caregiving journey. Please share your feedback and experiences so we can share ideas as a community.

Be well!

Want to learn more about how PrairieFire can help? Our community enjoys free resources to help get their financial house in order.
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