Keep the lines of communication open to protect the seniors

Bridgewater Bank’s COO: Keep the lines of communication open to protect the seniors close to you | Calgary Herald

June 5, 2012

June 4-10, 2012 is Seniors’ Week in Alberta. Peter O’Neill, Bridgewater Bank’s chief operating officer, appeared on the Opinions page of the Calgary Herald online edition with some timely advice on helping elderly family members with their finances:

Some topics are hard to discuss, even with loved ones. For many people, money is among the more challenging conversations and in some families, the subject of personal finances is downright taboo. So how do you start a dialogue on a touchy subject like money?

Just talk. In fact, avoid the topics of money or personal finances all together. The number of other things to chat about is endless; politics, movies, the weather, it doesn’t matter. Your aim is to strengthen ties with your loved ones and start an eventual dialogue about their hopes, fears and challenges.

During these chats, find out as much as you can about the people in your loved ones’ lives. Learn who their friends are and the names of the new people they’ve come to know.

Ask what they talk about with these people and what they do together. Be wary of strangers who seem eager to make fast friends; they’re sometimes pushing for more than friendship like wanting to discuss money or legal arrangements. Remind them that they can confide in you, seek your advice on matters and discuss recent developments in their lives. Over time, it will be easier to transition these discussions on more pressing matters when they arise.

All you need to do to begin protecting the financial and overall well-being of your aging loved ones is to start a simple conversation.

Peter O’Neill is the Chief Operating Officer of Calgary-based Bridgewater Bank, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Alberta Motor Association.