Home Instead Blog

Sensitive Conversations: Money
May 23, 2013

Your parents have always been very independent and private about handling their finances.  Lately, you’ve noticed that they’re cutting back on food and other necessary products. You’re concerned that their staples are in short supply – how do you broach the subject?

This is a tough one and probably a situation where you need to ‘bite the bullet’ and talk about it – no matter how uncomfortable. A reasonable conversation starter may be, “There isn’t much food around the place –are you hiding it – or just keeping the local take-away in business?!!” Pay attention to the tone you use – it’s obviously much better to take a humorous approach rather than an accusatory one!

If this is too informal, try a more straight forward approach: “Mum/Dad, I’m a bit concerned about whether you and Dad/Mum are eating enough.”Malnourishment can be a significant problem with older adults, and can be a sign of other issues that might need attention, over and above finances –such as poor-fitting dentures or even depression.

If evidence points to a financial issue, ask about that directly or simply say, “I know you’re pretty private about money, but you know that if you ever ran into problems, we’d all do what we can to help, okay?”

Tips on how to start and have this conversation and conversations on a range of other sensitive topics between adult children and their parents can be found in“The 40-70 Rule” - a Guide from Home Instead Senior Care.  The Guide has been developed in co-operation with Jake Harwood, Ph.D., Communication Professor and author from the University of Arizona.