Friday, September 1, 2023
It’s not easy watching your parents or senior loved ones age. It can be difficult to reconcile a lifetime of seeing them as youthful then watching them slowly deteriorate. Helping them navigate the selling process of their home can be particularly painful as your emotions may come into play along with their heightened ones. Our feelings can range from nostalgia to uncertainty as we see them face a significant shift in lifestyle and identity.
It can be challenging when the need to sell comes unexpectedly, such as quickly declining health or the death of a spouse. I experienced how quickly one’s health can deteriorate when my organs began failing after a trip to Kenya. My body was riddled with meningitis and cerebral malaria. With the amount of swelling in my brain, my husband and children didn’t know what I would be like when I came out of the coma.
As caring family members, friends, or caregivers, we play a pivotal role in helping seniors navigate this intricate process while providing emotional support. As a REALTOR®, I’ve experienced firsthand how to assist seniors in maintaining their sense of control through the house-selling process.
Allow Them Their Vital, Central Role
This seems like a no-brainer, yet when we think about it, how likely are we to jump in and try to steer them towards what we feel is best? We need to remember to take a step back and allow our loved ones to make the decisions. Their input can provide valuable insight based on their experiences, preferences, and needs. We need to know this to help them get their desired outcome.
A senior needs to play a central role in the decision-making process of when, where, and how their house is sold. Work together to establish a realistic timeline for the home-selling process. This can help alleviate the feeling of being rushed and allow them to adjust to the idea over time. Ultimately, giving seniors a central role in the decision-making process empowers them to shape their future and navigate this life transition with dignity and agency. After all, they still want to dream and plan their future!
Enlist a Compassionate REATOR® for the Journey
If you bring in a pushy REALTOR® who just wants to get a listing, make some money, and get out of there, it’s going to be a recipe for disaster. While this is never the personality you want to work with, in a case like this, it’s particularly damaging. It’s crucial to work with your senior to vet someone who is compassionate and has experience working with older adults.
A compassionate REALTOR® will approach the process with sensitivity and patience. They’ll guide you both through the practical aspects of listing, marketing, and negotiating and also take the time to listen to their concerns, preferences, and anxieties. This is key to alleviating stress and fostering a sense of trust between them and their agent.
At one point, we were working with a senior and her two adult kids when the woman began slurring her speech. Ken and I realized something was wrong with our client. The kids were a bit paralyzed in shock and didn’t know what to do. Ken and I had enough emotional wherewithal to urge them to call an ambulance; after rushing her to the hospital, doctors discovered she had had a minor stroke. We were grateful to have been there to support the family when it happened, and a week later, we were at her 92nd birthday party!
Go Slowly and Patiently
When sitting down over paperwork or other important decisions, go slowly. Ensure comprehension at each stage. While there is no stigma attached to reading glasses, many seniors are embarrassed to use hearing aids or to admit they cannot hear well. They might often keep nodding and agreeing, and we can easily assume they understand or hear us well enough.
A good practice is to pause and ask questions like, “What is your understanding of the situation?”, “What did you hear me say?”, “What do you think is the best choice?”, “What steps would you like to take?” and “What would you prefer to happen here?” This ensures you have the full picture of what the person really wants to happen.
Another thing we find helpful is to avoid using electronic signatures. While we love the convenience these provide, in this case, we don’t. We want to make 100% sure they know what they are signing. In person, I’ll verify with questions like, “What will this document do when you sign it?” “What price are you selling the house at?”
Supporting seniors through the process of selling their homes is a meaningful way to honor their journey and preserve their dignity. By combining patience, empathy, and open communication with great professional support, you can help your senior set the stage for new adventures and treasured memories in the chapters to come.
If you’re seeing the writing on the wall for yourself or someone you love, it’s time to have a conversation with your family. Then, invite a professional into the conversation, such as someone from the Dekker Team, who can help you decide what changes can be made moving forward. Reach out, we’d love to support you 613-860-4663, firstname.lastname@example.org