Several years ago, we held a series of informational seminars for our clients’ benefit. Each seminar covered helpful topics from retirement planning to avoiding identity theft. Based on the attendance and interest of our clients, a particular session stands out as the most impactful. This seminar was led by Gerald and Marlene Kaufman, who covered their recently published book titled, Necessary Conversations: Between Adult Children And Their Aging Parents. This topic is so important, and the book so helpful, that I thought it would be beneficial to revisit the subject again.
We give this book to many clients, and they have found it helpful in considering how to best communicate and deal with the future that they see for themselves or for their parents. For this article, I thought it would be helpful to give a brief summary of some of the topics that you can find in this book.
The Kaufmans start the book by saying, “Many of the families with whom we worked faced significant conflict with parents in their senior years. Few had made plans or have even talked together about the future. When crises arose, the families were unprepared.”
Ultimately, the purpose of the book is to spark productive conversations. The authors state, “Thinking about the future, though, is important to do now. And beyond thinking. We need to talk first with our spouse and then with our adult children.” The way they do this is through sharing stories that they have heard in their many years of counseling. Stories are often the best way to communicate ideas. The Kaufmans include various stories to get us thinking (and talking), rather than to try to tell their readers what to do.
The authors also dedicate a chapter to speaking directly to adult children (Chapter 4: Adult Children Consider Their Parents’ Aging). They say, “As adult children, it isn’t easy to think about our parents becoming older- to imagine them with weaker bodies, slower minds, and being dependent. Until now, it has rarely crossed our minds, mostly because our parents have always been active and healthy, and we’ve been busy with our own lives.” Personally, I can relate to both sides of this comment as I think about my parents’ future and my own.
It is also in this chapter that we see the suggestion of a “financial file”. This file looks a lot like the binders that we have created for our clients for many years and continues to be helpful when the time comes around for children to get involved.
There are many more great chapters in this book. We think this topic is so important, and the book so helpful, we are happy to send you one. If you would like a copy, feel free to contact us at (717) 492-4787 to let us know!