What worries keep seniors up at night? What "elephants in the room" remain unacknowledged?

Facing the Elephants in the Room

Karen Caccavo Living Independently, Working with Seniors

What worries keep seniors up at night?  What “elephants in the room” remain unacknowledged?

Many of these “elephants” exist for clients and their families.  Here are some of the concerns my senior clients have shared with me.  They may sound familiar:

  • “I will start to slip and important things will fall through the cracks.”
  • “l’ll be a burden on my family.”
  • “My children will swoop in and take control of my life.”
  • “I will outlive my investments.”
  • “My wishes for the future won’t be honored.”
  • “I will outlive my friends and those who understand me.”
  • “My kids won’t know what to do with my stuff.” (For more on this particular topic, see my blog post: Trash or Treasure: Downsizing a Lifetime of Stuff  ).

And the list of spoken and unspoken fears goes on . . .

Working with my senior clients.

As an financial organizer / daily money manager I sit side-by-side with my senior clients — opening mail, paying bills, and untangling financial and other of life’s complications.  At the same time, they often share concerns they haven’t communicated to their families or friends.

My first job is to listen.  Then, if they want to take the next step, we work on solutions to make their current lives more manageable.  After all, how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!

Suggestions can help.

I might suggest, “Let’s start using just one calendar to record your appointments.”  “We’ll establish a permanent home for your keys and checkbook.”  I might ask, “When did you last speak to your financial advisor?  Would it help if we put together some questions to ask him or her or if a family member or I came along to an appointment?”

Handling worries about the future.

Other suggestions help quell worries about the future.  “Why don’t I write down what you’ve told me about your funeral wishes?”  “Let’s make an appointment with your attorney so you can name a health care power of attorney.”  “Can I connect you with someone I know who can help you start decluttering?” “What other resources might help you continue to live independently?”

No question, my visits are task-oriented and focused on results.  But many clients also know I’m a great listener and problem solver.  When clients invite me into their lives, our time together can be therapeutic.

Professional counseling resources.

As we say in the professional organizing field, “There’s often stuff behind the stuff.”  Uncovering that “stuff” might very well go beyond what a financial organizer can appropriately do.  To effectively do so, I often suggest that clients get professional counseling,  With their permission, I can, take the next step to help locate resources.  I believe that everyone is entitled to have a skilled counselor listen to them who will focus exclusively on their thoughts and concerns – including those “elephants in the room.” Medicare covers mental health visits, including family appointments, and some covered providers even make house calls.  Community social service organizations have grants that cover counseling for those with chronic conditions, for example, or for Holocaust survivors.  Some towns offer counseling services to residents (Scarsdale and Eastchester, in Westchester County, New York).

are the “elephants in the room” for you, your clients, or senior family members?  I’m happy to discuss with you if they might be issues that can be addressed by an experienced, bonded, background checked financial organizer / daily money manager or refer you to other resources for seniors in the New York Metro area.

Photo Credit:  ID 61675641 ©Vicnt | Dreamstime.com