Mum and Dad retiring? The conversations you need to have with them now.

By Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant

Did you know that many parents never talk to their children about retirement? They don’t share their dreams, their goals nor their worries. Whilst it can represent a change in dynamic (you becoming the one offering advice and suggestions), the importance of having retirement talks with your parents cannot be overstated. Even if your parents are already in a great financial position, you can encourage them to consider the social and emotional elements to ensure they are set-up for a retirement that is fulfilling and meaningful to them. Don’t let them leave this to chance!

Below are four topics you should initiate a conversation about.


Their financial future

It’s easy to avoid talking about money, and is some families it is even considered taboo. But be brave and check in with your parents. Are they aware of where their money is invested (superannuation or otherwise), do they know how to access it, and do they have confidence that they will be able to retire comfortably? Financial peace of mind has a strong impact on wellbeing in retirement. If they are hesitant about any of these questions, now could be a good time for them to seek professional financial advice. Let them know it’s never too late to create a financial plan, as even small amounts invested the right way can make a big difference in retirement.

Read: 4 myths about financial planners busted!


If not already, there will come a time in the future when both or one parents will need to consider a move to a smaller home. Ask them what an acceptable downsize is - it is moving to a townhouse or moving into a lifestyle village? What will be the trigger to initiate a move - will it be health concerns, to avoid loneliness, sense of security, a lifestyle choice or a financial decision? Have the conversation now, so it doesn’t come as a shock later on and a move needs to be made urgently and in emotional distress. An example of this could be when a parent is struggling to maintain the home or has had a fall and they are no longer  safe in their own home.

Read: How to get more joy from your home in retirement


Advanced care planning

Advance care planning needs to be a standard part of every person's health care. It means that a person's values are discussed openly so that their healthcare preferences can be respected at a time when they cannot communicate their decisions for themselves. This could be when they are experiencing a chronic disease, cognitive impairment (such as dementia) or are at end of life.

Advance care planning involves determining who is allowed to make a decision on a person’s behalf and to determine any limits to care they may receive. Think about yourself for a moment, would you want CPR if it meant you would like remain in a vegetative state for the rest of your life or with severe disability. In what situations would you want aggressive treatment versus pain management, and where would you prefer to die – at hospital, at home or in a nursing home.

These are important things for your parents to discuss and document so that family can feel comfortable to make difficult decisions on your behalf in emotionally challenging times.

Once documented, encourage your parents to provide a copy to loved ones and their doctor, and upload it to My Health Record (in Australia) so that all health professionals are able to access it and provide care in line with their wishes, should it be required.

Do they have a plan for how they want to spend their time?

Wanting to catch up on sleep or taking an overseas trip is not a plan! That will just cover their first month!

If you have two parents together or they have a partner, find out if they have spoken to each other about what they want to do. Are they on the same page with how they want to spend their days or is there an assumption that the other will be happy to do as they wish - whiling the days away fishing or continuing at full speed – volunteering, babysitting the grandkids and going to the gym? Encourage them to talk to each other about dreams and interests now, and agree what they want to do together and separately, rather than getting frustrated when they find themselves at odds in retirement.

Read: Retirement and marriage – two peas in a pod or not…

Help your parents to have the conversations they need to have for peace of mind, and have them early. From there, they can get on and create that retirement they’ll love to live!

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like to read 5 Tips to support your mum into retirement or purchase the Next Steps: My Way Retirement Transition Blueprint. A simple, self-paced guide with prompts and practice tips to help smooth the road into retirement and ensure your parents are taking inspired action towards living a retirement that is fulfilling and meaningful to you. It makes a great gift!