I help my dad with his finances and pay his bills, but especially over the last couple of years, he has been increasingly forgetful and makes impulsive decisions that aren’t part of MY plan! Well, it used to be our plan, but he often doesn’t remember. I decided to look up an article from 2017 written by our founder, Jim Ludwick, for his sage advice. This is a great reminder to take a breath and focus on communication.

Recently, I’ve been helping two relatives since I’m the family member closest to them with both financial skills and healthcare experience (retired hospital administrator married to a retired nurse).

Both relatives exhibit signs of incapacity with diminished functioning on some level. So now I must brush up on my communication skills in addition to my background and experience in helping others in financial planning.

Here are several communication strategies I’ve embraced as I work with my relatives:

  • Repeat almost everything they tell me in conversations often saying it a different way
  • Ask more yes or no answered questions to move things along and not force them into long pauses
  • Change the subject if they appear to become over concerned about something
  • Ask them to tell me about their life with me when I was young
  • Give them a point-by-point summary as I close our conversation

I like to give my relatives an update on their finances by assuring them everything is fine and they have lots of savings to take care of themselves.

  • Tell them which bills I paid
  • Tell them the balances of their accounts. Usually, that’s only two or three anyway.
  • Ask them if they have any questions. They always have questions
  • Even though I get duplicate statements or email statements I ask the about statements that came in the mail. Sometimes they are hidden away. I’ve been surprised even though I thought I had identified all accounts.
  • Keep other relatives and interested parties informed. Handling money causes some people to worry about fraud or theft.

Your other relatives and friends will most likely appreciate how you help your relative or friend in their moment of need as it relates to the financial well-being along with their health care decisions. Good communication is the key component for interaction with your loved one and those around them.

Cynthia Flannigan
Cynthia Flannigan

Cynthia made the shift to financial planning to guide clients through making good financial decisions through both grim and exciting changes in life. More than anything, she thrives on helping people. She obtained her CFP designation in 2008 and completed a masters in financial planning and taxation at Golden Gate University.

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