Last month, we posted a blog about things to do when visiting your elderly loved one this holiday.

(If you missed it, click on the title to read it: Start Planning Now to Visit Your Elderly Loved One)

In that blog, we identified the need to review your elderly loved one’s finances and health insurance coverage.

It may be challenging to address these items, especially if they have been private about their finances and health. But using the right words, tone, and timing can break those barriers and open the door to meaningful conversation.

Here are nine topics regarding money and health to discuss with your elderly loved one.

1- Contact List

Create a contact list to include banking institutions, financial advisors, tax advisors, attorneys, and healthcare professionals.

If you live out of town, find out who is on their mobile phone as ICE (in case of emergency).

Update this list at least once a year.

2- Online Account Access

Request to be added to their online financial and healthcare accounts in case of an emergency.

Also, review with them the importance of changing passwords and setting up two-factor authentication.

3- Healthcare

Review all healthcare insurance policies for medical, dental, vision, and pharmaceuticals.

Reach out to an independent Medicare agent to ensure they’re in the best plan, especially if your elderly parent travels, will be moving out of state, or needs expensive surgery.

Medicare annual enrollment period is October 15th through December 7th each year.

According to the National Council of Aging, less than a third of Medicare enrollees compare their Medicare plan choices. By not comparing plans, over 10 percent of seniors overspend more than $2,000 annually.  

4- Frailty

Begin the conversation while they are healthy about recognizing frailty (deteriorating mental or physical health).

If your elderly loved one suffers from frailty, sound judgment might be compromised in managing financial affairs and/or care for their home.

5- Power of Attorney

Identify who would be given power of attorney. This role can be active via a “durable power.”

Or, it can be delayed until they can no longer make decisions via a “springing power.”

You may want to schedule an appointment with their attorney for this discussion.

6- Spending

Review their regular bills to ensure they take advantage of senior discounts and are in the most appropriate plans.

Use this information to calculate their spending and compare it to their income. Make sure they are not spending more than their income.

7- Beneficiaries and Will

Encourage them to review and update beneficiary information on life insurance and financial accounts.

Also, encourage them to review their Will, especially if there is a change in health or marital status.

8- Direct Deposit

Set up direct deposit for their Social Security check and other sources of income if they haven’t already done this task.

In this way, their checks are less likely to be stolen from their mailbox.

9- Fraud

Discuss with your elderly loved one the reality of common fraud schemes targeted at seniors.

Remind them that if it’s too good to be true, it’s probably fraud.

Encourage them not to click on links and to contact you if they are suspicious.

Also, discuss with them the reality of artificial intelligence used to fake an emergency. Create a “safe” word to use to determine whether or not a situation is real.

Conversations about money and health can be uncomfortable.

Try using a subtle opening to break barriers. For example, a family situation — “How is Aunt Debbie doing since Uncle Kevin unexpectedly passed away this year?”

You can also reference recent news — “Did you see the special report about increasing long-term care expenses?” You can even use your situation as an opening — “We need help with our Will. Who did you use?”

Be patient – it may take several conversations to gather all the information. But it’s better to address these items before a crisis.

(Update to original post from November 14, 2017)


Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA®, RICP®, is a Managing Director at Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing  comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, and retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”