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R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find Out What It Means to You

reverse mortgage newsRespect. The Queen of Soul (Aretha Franklin) may have made the word famous, but treating others royally is always in style, no matter where you hold court.

One LO said: “I met with a successful financial planner today, and over lunch we got into a discussion about whether we’d rather be a client’s friend or be respected by him/her?” (This sounds similar to discussions on parenting sites, e.g., “I’m not my child’s friend, I’m his Mom/Dad. They will respect me for setting boundaries.”)

“Later I heard a TV commercial for a very sincere attorney who said, ‘Trust is something I have to work every day to earn.'”

Holding Seniors in High Regard

Respect can be an interesting equation when it comes to elders, especially if someone is not as mentally astute as they once were. How do we convey respect in our communication, without overloading the senior with information? Can we be simultaneously trustworthy, respected/respectful — and also be viewed as a friend?

“At times you may need to separate these on the professional level, but maybe not so much on a personal one,” the HECM professional acknowledged. “I say this because when we are with friends we can be more relaxed, and have a longer period of time to get to know each other than while on a professional appointment.

“For example, if you are working with a reverse mortgage client/customer and counseling them you usually engage in some small talk to warm up to each other; maybe it is about family or hobbies, or a recent trip, etc. Then you have to switch gears and get down to the sales/counseling reason for the visit. Again…to do business with that individual or family, you have to be trusted and respected for your knowledge and ability, and be a likeable person — and you have a limited amount of time to accomplish these things. You are creating the foundation for the follow-up meeting.”

Clearly, HECM loan originators must possess the agility of a tightrope walker, the sensitivity of a therapist, and the timing of a 5-star chef, in addition to business acumen, in order to successfully meld trust, respect, friendship and sales in a brief meeting.

Does Respect Reduce Elder Abuse?

Teaching respect and empathy in the classroom, as well as making it mandatory training for anyone who is going to work with an aging population, might go a long way towards reducing the incidence of elder abuse, which not only varies in definition but tends to be underreported: a dependent senior is unlikely to tell the authorities that the person caring for them is being abusive. According to the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging for the National Center for Elder Abuse, state laws define anywhere from 3 to 22 acts as elder abuse, ranging from physical and emotional abuse to neglect and financial exploitation. And sometimes, the abuse isn’t apparent until it’s too late.

One elderly couple lost their home to their unscrupulous grandson, who convinced them to sign the deed to the house over to him, take out a half-million dollar loan, and keep the money in his account while he doled out a monthly allowance. If only they had known about the reverse mortgage option — and if only their grandson, whom they had called their “treasure child”, hadn’t been a scam artist.

While direct-care workers are responsible for providing 70 to 80 percent of the paid hands-on long-term care for older adults, their preparation and training is underfunded and inconsistent, according to the Eldercare Workforce Alliance. And as we’ve explored before, family caregivers themselves can face physical, emotional, mental, and financial challenges in their caregiving role, and need to become more aware of the resources available to support them.

Respect begins with each of us. As the loan officer above who firmly believes trust, respect, friendship and business success are mutually inclusive says, “We are ourselves, and our sincerity and putting the senior’s well-being first shows up immediately.”

For a respect tune-up any time, tune in to the Queen: she’s as powerful today, at 74, as when she recorded this version of her signature song half a century ago.


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