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Aging Parents May Need Your Time Because They Don’t Have Money

I wrote last week about having a difficult conversation with your “first degree” relatives about their genetics. Knowing your relatives’ health conditions will help financial planning because it gives you important information about your future health and health expenses.

There is another reason you want to know your parents and siblings genetics and if they have had or of have cardiovascular disease or diabetes. You may want to prepare for the inevitability of your relatives needing your time or money to maintain their care.

Intergenerational Care Networks Are Real

Your parents probably don’t have enough money to care for themselves if they get dementia. By 2030 73 million people will be older than 65 and most are not financially prepared for retirement That fact means almost as many adult children may have to help out. Knowing your elderly relative’s health history – especially about physical and mental decline risks can help you predict future time and money pressures. Cognitive decline is strongly inheritable, so knowing your grandparents’ cognitive health can help predict your parents’ future needs.

It’s hard to talk to your parents about money. Wells Fargo/Ipsos survey reveals 42 percent of people would ask their parents about funerals than finances. But intergenerational care networks and obligations are real and they shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Another plus of the conversation is that talking to aging parents about their financial situation can help normalize money conversations and normalization can reduce shame, the psychological state that can drive difficult issues underground making solving them even harder.

Your elderly relatives may need you and they know it and may not want to talk about it. In the United States, 30% of adults with a living older parent says their parent or parents need help handling their affairs or caring for themselves. A daughter or daughter-in-law is more likely to forgo paid work –an average of 77 hours per month– to help a parent or in-law. And if the family is lower-income, the care will likely be done personally by the adult child which is likely even more difficult to ask for.

We all face risks of a bad health outcome or a family member needing help. We all need insurance against those risks. Many problems which seem like individual and private problems are really collective and social problems.

Legislation Is Needed For Adult Children To Care For Family Members

Legislation mandating access to flexible working hours, time off or paid leave to accommodate caring for an aging relative can help facilitate interconnected family care. Expanding Medicare to include long term care and making letting private insurance lower the cost of insulin and making testing widely accessible are necessary companions to private efforts to insure against hereditary risks and the web of interfamily responsibilities.

Go easy on those conversations, but they are necessary!

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