Keeping the finances conversation going

Your follow-up conversations can help you and the older adult work together on financial tasks.

Follow-up conversations can be good opportunities to:

  • Share and discuss new information

  • Weight the pros and cons of different options

  • Ask if the older adult's needs or feelings have changed

  • Involve professionals, family or friends whose opinions you both value

If you and the older adult agree on next steps during your first conversation, it can be easy to start the next discussion. For example: "Have you thought about meeting with a financial advisor?" or "I printed a financial power of attorney form for you to look over."

If the first conversation didn't end with clear plans or on a positive note, there are other ways to start a follow-up discussion. You might want to:

  • Build on a specific point from the previous discussion: "You mentioned that you don't remember some of the charges on your credit card bill. Could we look at it together?"

  • Discuss a different financial topic: "I know you don't want to discuss financial details. Can we talk about what legal documents you have?"

  • Try to understand the older adult's point of view: "You said that you don't want to rely on paid help. Are you concerned about the cost or do you want people who you know to help out?"

  • Explain why this is important to you: "It may seem like I'm overreacting, but a medical emergency could happen anytime. I want to make sure we know who should make decisions and how to honor your preferences, if that happens."

  • Highlight how finances might affect other things: "I know you want to stay in your apartment. A financial planner could help you figure out how to afford that."

  • Space out conversations: "It's been a few weeks since we talked about maybe having a group financial discussion. Do you still think that's a good idea?"

Encourage the older adult to share thoughts and opinions by asking more open-ended questions, like "Are any financial tasks difficult or unpleasant for you?" If you ask lots of "leading" questions - like "Wouldn't you feel better if I took over paying bills?" - it can seem like you're just trying to get the older adult to go along with what you want.

Try to have smaller, more frequent conversations, rather than a few big ones. That gives you both time to consider options before you discuss financial issues again.

Avoid launching into a conversation about finances every time you talk with the older adult. Try to balance the "serious" talk with time spent simply enjoying each other's company.