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What About Adult Children?

July 24, 2014 by Sherpa

When working with a late-in-life prospect or client, you will likely interact with their adult children at some point. If they are your only contact and are acting on the behalf of a parent, their role is even more important.

Typically the adult children are in their 50s and don’t have much time to talk between a job and family– they’ll say they’re just looking for information. Maybe they don’t want their parent to know they are looking for options on their behalf. This doesn’t mean we can’t start the discovery process and better understand their parents’ situation. And theirs, too.

In cultures around the world it’s customary for aging parents with difficulties to live with their children. But in the U.S. this isn’t the norm. According to research, Many older Americans “hold out” from moving in with their children as to not be a burden, though they do tend to stay within the zip code or close by. Even though they aren’t sharing a house, a senior in need can be a massive responsibility for their children who don’t want to be a “bad” son or daughter by letting someone else take over. What are they going through?

Adult children have many roles in the lives of their aging parents, ones that have become reversed from their childhood: caretaker, advocate and rule-maker. Sometimes negative issues from childhood will get stirred up, increase anxiety and put a strain on the parent-child relationship as described in this article. 

As sales counselors we aren’t there to pressure a decision from the parent or child, but instead to understand the situation and offer options. As studies show, the financial costs may be greater for their parents to be cared for at home, so offer to compare the numbers together. But what may be even more pressing for an adult child is the time and energy it takes to care for their parent. How can we help take some pressure off them? We could take over their role for a few days, or even offer a trial stay to let them experience what it would be like if their parent was cared for by our community.

It is probably best to communicate with the prospect directly–it should be their decision in the end–but keeping the adult child informed and part of the process is crucial to a successful sale. Books and articles written by David Solie, an expert on adult children and communicating with seniors, are great resources to share with those who call in on behalf of their parents. By showing them the benefits of senior housing, we can changing perceptions of the industry for current and future generations.


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