Some topics are hard to raise with your family, no matter how close you are. 

If your parents are approaching retirement age, you may be concerned about what they have planned for their future. Maybe you want to make sure they’ll be financially secure, or that you’re abiding by their wishes when the time comes. 

But it can be hard asking your parents about their plans when you haven’t always seen eye-to-eye in the past, or you look to them for guidance. 

Often, starting the conversation about what they have planned for their future can seem so overwhelming, it’s easier to avoid the topic altogether. But the truth is that having this conversation is an important part of protecting your loved one’s wellbeing and making sure you’re acting according to their wishes. 

Here are some tips to help you navigate this topic calmly and respectfully. 

Pick the right time and place 

For a sensitive subject like this, it’s important to make sure everyone is in the right frame of mind to talk openly. Try to avoid starting the conversation when your parents might be tired from work, feeling wound up after a big family gathering or experiencing a lot of personal stress.  

It’s also worth thinking about where you want to have this discussion. Think about places where your parents feel comfortable, and that are private and familiar, like their own home or yours. 

Raise the topic casually 

Asking your parents about their future plans out of the blue might make them feel put on the spot. You don’t want them to feel trapped or uncomfortable. 

Starting off with an open-ended question about their life now can help keep the conversation light and casual. Some examples of questions you could ask are: 

  • Are you lonely living at home? 
  • What do you want your retirement to be like? 
  • How is it living home alone? Do you feel safe? 
  • How are you going with driving to the shops/doctors/etc.? 

Ask the right questions 

It’s important to focus on questions that put your parents’ wishes, goals and feelings at the centre of the discussion. Some examples include: 

  • Are you happy with where you live now, or would you want to move somewhere else? 
  • Do you have a will and an Enduring Power of Attorney? 
  • What would you do if you were sick, or needed care? 
  • Would you want to go to a nursing home if you needed to? 
  • What do you think I should know about your wishes? 
  • Have you written your plans down or shared them with anyone? 

Remember this is about your parents’ current and future care needs and how you can support them. While you may be curious, it’s not an opportunity for you to pressure them with questions about your future inheritance.  

Listen and follow your parents’ lead 

Thinking about the future after you pass can be scary and unpleasant.  

It’s important to make sure your parents know that you’re here to support them and help them achieve their goals, not pressure them. You might disagree with them on some things, but they have the right to be in control of their own future. 

Make it clear that you’re happy to follow their lead when it comes to these choices; having this discussion will help you support them by giving you a clear idea of what their plans and wishes are. 

Make it an ongoing conversation 

There are lots of things to consider when it comes to planning life after retirement and organising your estate, so don’t expect to cover everything in one conversation. 

Leaving the topic open-ended so you can revisit it later can help your parents work through these issues at their pace.  

 

No matter how prepared you are, having these conversations can be hard for both you and your parents. RAQ’s Senior Relationship Services can help you navigate this topic and others with your family. Call 1300 063 232 for more information.