Caring for an aging parent or other loved one is a compassionate—but often stressful—undertaking. It may feel like a lot is out of your control when your daily life starts to revolve around someone else's needs.
On top of that, caregiving often brings new financial worries and responsibilities. This can be overwhelming, so we here at Fidelity have a few financial tips for caregivers.
1. Create an open dialogue
Asking your parents to suddenly tell you all about their finances can be awkward—so start small. Talk about how much prescriptions cost or how expensive gasoline is. Ask them about their financial values and the values they learned from their parents. Talk about your own finances.
Another idea is to schedule a time with your parents (and any other interested family members) for a dedicated money conversation. Picking a time and agenda beforehand can help everyone know what to expect. (Learn more about how to have a successful family money meeting.)
The more you can understand your parents' values and normalize conversations around money, the easier it will be when you need to have those big talks. And remember to be patient. This can be a stressful transition for everyone involved, so be kind to yourself and your parents as you navigate this together.
2. Get organized
To help take care of your parents and their financial wellbeing—plus stay on top of any items on their financial to-do list—you need to know some details.
Work with your parents, plus any financial or legal professionals they've worked with, to organize their information. The following questions could be valuable to ask: Do they have a centralized place where all their accounts are listed? If they're active online, do you know their account passwords, or where to find them if you needed them one day? Do they have health, life, or long-term care insurance, and do you know what it covers? What about a will, estate plan, and advance directives for medical issues?
It's important to note that laws change, and financial plans they made a decade ago may no longer meet their needs. So consider checking in with an estate planning attorney, financial professional, or other professionals as needed to ensure their plans are still appropriate.
3. Take care of yourself
Make sure to prioritize your financial, mental, and physical health so that you have the capacity to help others. It might seem counterintuitive, but often the best way to help others is by first helping yourself. Although it isn't always easy when your financial responsibilities are growing, try to continue saving for retirement, avoid depleting your emergency fund, and avoid high interest debt.
For more on balancing these complex demands, read Viewpoints at Fidelity.com: How to take care of aging parents and yourself.