It felt awkward to bring up the subject at first, but I could see my dad was starting to struggle with managing his house and everyday affairs. My husband and I pitch in where we can. Still the changes we'd been noticing over the past year kept nagging at me until I finally asked, “Is there a better living situation for you?” I was glad I phrased the question so innocuously because it kept us on the same team trying to find a solution together.
I've got it easy. My father started preparing for this eventuality more than 20 years ago by purchasing long-term-care insurance. To my surprise, though, he was more than willing to discuss and to plan his next 20 years, so we did. Eventually, we found a wonderful assisted-living facility in our community and they even had an apartment that was available immediately. It took some doing, and he's not completely settled yet, but he is now enjoying prepared meals, a host of activities, and — my favorite — maid service.
Meanwhile, I'm getting the house ready to rent. Even though he had maintained and improved the house, he let some things slip. It needs to be painted inside and out, new carpet installed, and drapes cleaned and re-hung. He's depending on me to meet with the contractors and to manage the entire process because it's just overwhelming to him. Aging parents use outdated strategies, and he's aware that my input could help protect him.
I appreciate that he's letting me take the reins on the house, too, because I can see that it won't be long before I need to take an even more active role in his finances. This first experience of me taking charge and him letting go is turning out well for both of us, and I hope it lays the foundation of trust for me to take on that expanded role in the future.
Eventually, I see myself paying his bills and managing the investments. So as we get the property rented, I think I'll start discussing this with my dad to see when he thinks that should happen. Ideally, I'd like him to put my brother and me on his accounts and introduce us to his attorney and financial adviser. I also need to review the legal documents to make sure I have more than a medical power of attorney.
What else do I need to think about? How much do you get involved in your parents' finances? How do you overcome their objections if they are unwilling to take your advice on financial matters?