Photo by Gervyn Louis on Unsplash
I was recently reminded of a two fundamentals to working with seniors and must be shared with anyone whose parents or loved ones continue to manage their own home and finances. 1. Always ask if you can help…… even if they’ve already said no five times. 2. Never assume it comes as easily as it used to…… even if it is what they did professionally.
Last weekend, my mother in law mentioned to me several times there were a couple of things she needed me to review. When we finally sat down she pulled out two large ziplocs of mail along with her phone. She meant business. First, she handed me her phone and opened an email from Medicare that was a couple weeks old. She went into a flutter about having to re-register at all her doctors and how were they going to get claims processed and on and on. I reviewed the email and was quick to discover that it was simply a marketing email hoping you’ll download the CMS/Medicare app – a tool to research what may be covered instead of going to the desktop version of their site. Their marketing call to action had been interpreted by her as “do this now or risk your coverage”. This isn’t the first time a marketing email or piece of mail has created panic.
So, what do we all need to remember from this? First, we live in a marketing laden, fast paced, digital world that is not fundamental to how the baby boomer and senior generations managed their finances & home. Technology and real time communication has created anxiety and doubt for the baby boomer & senior generations. Taking the time to sit down and either assist or validate their efforts to maintain their bills and lifestyle isn’t presumptuous – it’s necessary. Offering your assistance or bringing in a Certified Senior Advisor® will relieve anxiety as well as insure security around identity and savings.
Finally, take conversations at their pace. While we always expect our parents to be the uber capable individuals that raised us and exceeded professionally, no one escapes cognitive decline. Everything – from making a sandwich to reviewing a piece of junk mail – is going to take longer to do. Show respect and patience. They may have been paying bills and managing money since before you were able to vote. If you hear them out entirely, you may see a better way to effectively communicate and remedy their concern. Being helpful or offering advice doesn’t mean you should be taking away their autonomy. Patience is a virtue.