Advisors today have many clients who are single, widowed, or divorced. The numbers are telling: single adults in the United States now comprise slightly more than half the adult population and growing. For younger adults, being single poses unique challenges. Under 40 single friends and family members have told me that finding a social, spiritual, or leisure affinity with peers is tough. The promise of finding community on any number of social media platforms rarely satisfies.
Older adults, especially seniors caring for a spouse either at home or in a healthcare facility, face an entirely different hurdle. Yes, more seniors are connecting online through blogs, e-mail, and community bulletin boards, but many are not. We had clients in their 80s, caring at home for spouses with adult children living hundreds of miles away. We read articles about “the sandwich generation,” but some have a crisis of another species.
These situations can and often do foster isolation and yes loneliness. How might we care for our clients who feel they are cut off from others?
First, remember we always have a reason to call a client. It may be setting a reminder to reach out to widowed seniors on a monthly basis. Those “How are you?” calls mean so much to people who fear they will be forgotten. More times than not, non-business touch points often segue from their side into a conversation about their financial concerns.
Second, learn all you can about younger singles and their interests. For some, it’s golf, tennis, running, or travel. Others have aging parents who look to them for emotional support. Single clients often welcome our wisdom regarding a career change, purchase of a home, and work-lifestyle balance. Divorce, both at the time of separation and afterward, creates uncertainty financially and relationally. Scan your client community and you will find many you serve who would welcome a call.
Third, be more intentional and present to married clients whose spouse has a terminal or chronic illness. A client once shared with me that the occasional calls I make to check in with her and her husband meant so much. And yes, when a client dies, find ways to be present to the surviving spouse and family members. Grief and loss exacerbate feelings of loneliness in a manner that even the grieving find hard to define.
Do this today. Take a few minutes, make a list of clients who may be enduring a season of loneliness, and start making those calls. You will do no more meaningful and supportive work engaged with the people you serve. Some of those calls may open new doors of understanding that will help you offer your best advice. Loneliness is pervasive among many of your clients. Your care, your support, and your engagement with them will be a gift both to them and to you.