In a previous post (“Retirement and Good Living” March 15, 2016) entitled Crucial Conversations—We’re All in this Together, I made the case for the importance of discussing your retirement plans with those closest to you. The elevator speech about why this matters goes something like this.

“I’m going to retire. What I decide to do with my time affects you. What you do with your time and what you think about what I decide to with my time affects me. So, let’s talk.”

The problem is that relatively few prospective or current retirees have these crucial conversations. The importance of this notion came up in two places this past week, prompting me to revisit the concept om this post.

The AARP Bulletin “Modern Family” section published an article entitled, “More Adult Kids Living with Their Parents.” It shared two pieces of compelling data from a Pew Research Center analysis of the U.S. Census data. 1) “Nearly one-third of millennials—32.1 percent—lived with their parents in 2014” and 2) “For the first time in 130 years, adults ages 18 to 34 are more likely to be living with their parents than with a spouse or partner.”

The second place I was alerted to this issue was a less likely source. Procter & Gamble has long been among the foremost consumer goods companies. One reason is their ability to understand consumers and consumer trends. OK, full disclosure—I’m a P&G retiree.

I saw a recent commercial for Tide Liquid Detergent commercial called, “The In-Laws.” In the TV spot, a husband and wife are folding and sorting piles—big piles—of laundry, trying to convince themselves how happy they are that his in-laws and their adult children had all moved in with them. The dialogue goes on as they identify and fold both grandma’s age-appropriate panties and their daughter’s lacy underwear.

Humerous? Yes. Instructive? Definitely. P&G would not have produced the commercial unless there was a clear and quantifiable trend for more Baby Boomers to be caring, in one way or another, for aging parents and adult children.

The questions for us as prospective and current retirees are 1) whether or not we have recognized this possibility or reality for ourselves, and 2) whether we have taken it into account as we have developed our retirement plans. The answers to these questions can have dramatic emotional and financial implications to our own retirement lives; not all of them negative.

Regardless of individual life circumstances, the best way to get ahead of this trend and the potential of the reality of caring for aging parents and/or adult children is to have the crucial conversations. Here’s a hypothetical family situation. Susan and Mike are in their early-60’s and are both about to retire. They have been planning for retirement for some time and have done a good job of ensuring they have their financial plans in place and a vision for how they will meaningfully spend their time.

Susan’s father and Mike’s mother are each in their late-80’s. Although each is doing reasonably well and living independently, the signs are clear that they’ll soon need more assistance of some kind. Susan and Mike have two adult children. Their daughter is married with two children and is gainfully employed. Her husband has a good job, and they live in the same city as Susan and Mike. Their son is single, lives out of town and although he is currently employed, he has frequently moved from job to job, and Susan and Mike have occasionally provided financial support in the past.

So, what crucial conversations would you suggest to Susan and Mike? Who should they be talking to and about what as they look forward to and plan their retirement? Remember the principle of the crucial conversations concept is to discuss retirement plans with those closest to you to make sure you’ve taken into account how your plans will affect them and how they will affect your plans. Here are just a few crucial conversations I’d suggest to our couple.

  • Talk with each of the aging parents about what their plans and expectations are about the need for care and the role they would like Susan and Mike to play. Consider finances, living arrangements, and any other aspects.
  • Talk to the daughter and her husband to establish expectations about what role Susan and Mike will play in the care of the grandchildren.
  • Talk to the son about what the limitations are for future financial support.
  • Talk to each other both in advance of these crucial conversations and after them to make sure there is alignment.

There may be other crucial conversations for Susan and Mike to have with each other and with those closest to them. The key is for anyone approaching or in retirement to determine who they need to talk with and about what. Have the crucial conversations.