BOSTON - While all families are different, mothers are often the ones who encourage conversation about such important topics as financial security in retirement, caring for an elder, and estate planning, according to survey results released last week by Fidelity Investments.

"Moms are more likely and open to having deep, detailed discussions," said Lauren Brouhard, a senior vice president for retirement with Fidelity's personal-investing business.

"Starting the discussion with Mom may be a good strategy," given how awkward such conversations can be, Brouhard said.

Key findings from the Boston-based company include:

Seventy percent of the mothers aged 55 and older who were surveyed reported they had had comprehensive discussions with their adult children about their ability to cover living expenses in retirement. Just 55 percent of fathers had talked about that topic.

Seventy-nine percent of the mothers had discussed estate planning or wills with their adult children, compared with 69 percent of fathers.

Sixty-six percent of mothers had discussed health topics such as caring for elders, while 56 of the fathers had done so.

Sixty-four percent of mothers said it was "not at all difficult" to start a conversation with an adult child about savings and investing, vs. 54 percent of fathers who said that.

One reason that mothers were more open to discussing such matters: They were more likely to describe themselves as "the empathizer" in their families. Fifteen percent of mothers said that was the case vs. 6 percent of fathers describing themselves that way. Fathers were more likely to view themselves as "the pragmatist" in discussing finances, believing they take a more straightforward approach than mothers do.

When asked privately about these hard-to-discuss topics, survey participants offered widely varying views on whether their families were discussing money matters in sufficient detail, if they were having the conversations at all.