Over the years I have had a number of people express to me the challenges they experience when finding themselves in the position of handling the finances of their parents. It doesn’t seem to matter the circumstances that led to the role reversal, there is no way around the question, “Am I doing the right thing?”
A recent blog post by a colleague and coaching client from Portland, OR says it all. Cindy has recently begun blogging about her personal experience of caring for aging parents. Having come from an upbringing where such personal matters are kept private, this was an act of courage for Cindy with her motivating factor… to somehow help others who find themselves in similar situations. I have a great deal of respect for Cindy and her husband Tom, both REALTORS who specialize in senior housing and real estate in the Portland, OR metropolitan area and both graciously and lovingly caring for aging parents.
Reprinted with Cindy’s permission, here is her most recent blog post.
Handling My Parents’ Finances
By Cindy Wideman
My taking over my parents’ finances has been a gradual progression. My mom has always handled everything, so although my dad has had dementia for several years, that initially had no impact on me. However, when macular degeneration made it difficult for Mom to balance her checkbook, pay bills and gather information for the accountant at tax time, I took over those tasks. Still, these were easy tasks, and really required only my time….no decision making. In recent months, my mom’s mental condition has deteriorated, and she essentially asked me to handle all of their finances. This included deciding how to invest the proceeds from the sale of their house, doing everything that was required for my dad to start receiving VA benefits, setting up a new trust, and changing power of attorney from my brother to me. I made the decision to hire an elder law attorney to be certain that everything was done correctly. That was quite expensive, and I did lose a bit of sleep over spending their money on something that may not have been necessary.
I picked the assisted living community they are now in, based mostly on the physical features of their apartment. I realize now that I should have done more research because there are some issues there. I wonder if I could have found some place that was better, and less expensive. They are both in their 90’s and I know that moving them at this stage would be very traumatic for them, so they will stay there and I’ll do what I can to handle the problems I see there by regular communication with the director. Another worry to interfere with a good night’s sleep.
I have made an appointment with a financial planner to discuss their investments. Once again I know I will be making a decision on their behalf, and I find that to be much more challenging than deciding what to do with my own money.
My mom tells me almost every time I see her and she doesn’t know what they would do without me, and they totally trust me to handle EVERYTHING. I appreciate her trust, but I wish I had her confidence in all of the decisions I have made on their behalf.
|Nikki Buckelew is the Founder and CEO of the Seniors Real Estate Institute and administrator for the Certified Senior Housing Professional® (CSHP) designation. A veteran REALTOR® of over two decades, she holds a bachelor’s degree in gerontology and a master’s degree in counseling psychology. As a professional speaker, coach, and trainer, Nikki is committed to empowering, equipping, and educating real estate sales and senior housing professionals seeking to better serve the mature market segment.