“I don’t trust you. Real estate agents are like used car salesmen. You’re trying to take advantage of my mom!” This is what a boomer might be thinking when I show up to talk about selling her mom’s home when she can no longer live independently.
While a client has never been so transparent as to actually say those words to me, sometimes I have felt it in the expression on their faces. In a time of great stress I am hearing from a frustrated, fearful adult child.
Seniors aren’t the only ones who experience fear in the face of change—their adult children can also be dramatically impacted and unable to productively manage their fears. They may also be experiencing feelings of guilt for having not done enough for the parents themselves, or not being in a position to do so now. Their guilt may stem from a less-than-ideal family relationship over the years or from living too far away to help as much as they would like to, now that the time has come to make a move. They are lashing out because they feel helpless.
In this case I would try to understand their position and employ my best empathy and patience skills: “Oh, Susan, I can tell you are really worried about your mom. I don’t blame you a bit. She’s a lovely woman! A big change like this is difficult for everyone, so I understand your concern. Like you, I want what is best for her and I’m working with her and your brother to make sure she gets what she needs and wants for her own future—what will make her happy. How can I help you? Maybe you have some questions I can answer, or some additional information I can provide to make you more comfortable with the process?”
Susan’s reaction may be the result of her own fears and insecurities—or she may be reflecting the fears and insecurities of one or both of her parents or other siblings. There is so much going on at this time of life and aging parents can make it worse by becoming more tactless and saying hurtful things to those actually trying to help them. It’s no picnic!
But by addressing concerns and offering solutions I can help mom, dad and the adult children all come out the other side with a much happier life for everyone. My experience with over 200 transactions involving seniors and senior communities in San Diego means I can offer a variety of choices for mom to consider.