A new study shows the percentage of adult children providing basic care for their parents has skyrocketed in recent years. Nearly 10 million adults age 50 and over care for an aging parent. Twenty percent of us are caring for someone over 50 who are either ill or aging.

For the individual female caregiver, the cost impact of care giving on in terms of lost wages, pension and Social Security benefits averages $324,044. For male caregivers, the figure is $283,716. Ouch!

This same study found that adult children age 50 and over who work and provide care to a parent are more likely to have fair or poor health than those who do not provide care to their parents.

Don’t let yourself suffer financially, physically, and emotionally from this sandwich of caring for the generations surrounding you. Avoid touching your retirement or you may put the same stress on your children down the line.

So have “the talk” with your aging parents.

1.     Start the conversation…

Have this conversation while your parents are still healthy and able to handle their own affairs. Before you have this talk, let your brothers and sisters know what you are doing and why so there is no misunderstanding. If the whole group can’t get together at least everyone will be on the same page.

You know your parents well and you don’t want them to feel like you are ganging up on them so think through the best way to broach the subject. For some parents it will be a welcomed relief to have this all on the table now. For those who are more resistant to this conversation, try asking questions.  You want to plan with them, not for them so try something like, “Have you thought about what you’d want to happen if you couldn’t be completely independent anymore?” Let them know that by planning ahead they get a greater say in the decisions that will eventually have to be made.

2.       Make a Locations list

Know where all important documents are. Are they in a file draw at home or in a safe deposit box at the bank? If your own children are adults, be sure to let them know this information for you. If and when the time comes to need this information, one less emotional turmoil will be greatly appreciated.

3.       Talk about nursing home care

Americans who reach age 65 have a 40% chance of entering a nursing home so this is certainly an issue to cover before it is a matter of urgency.  Discuss a plan now to make sure they are where it is best and that they have what is best when the need arises.

The sooner you start the conversation, the easier it will be to get your parents’ financial house in order without jeopardizing your own retirement!

For a list of specific questions to cover that are critical email me at bonnie@kratosfinancia.wpengine.com