I understand why many people dislike winter. Some choose to be snowbirds. Others take world cruises and get away for three months. Most of us stay close to home and cope with the cold. January is considered the most depressing month, and Jan. 24 is supposed to be the most depressing day. February and March can still be pretty depressing too. The winter months record more deaths among the elderly. The reasons are obvious. If you have older clients, how can you get them through the rest of winter?
You might think: “That’s not the job of a financial advisor.” It is the job of friends and people who care about the welfare of others. Let’s look at 18 things that can help the mood and life of your older clients. Some you can deliver, others you might suggest.
1. Don’t shovel the snow yourself
The Chicago Sun Times recommends that if you are over age 45, leave the snow shoveling to someone else. Some people might think stopping activities they have always done is depressing. It can be good for your health. Advise your client to hire a service or local students to get the job done.
2. Avoid these two activities
Here are two ways to improve the start to your day. Do not step on the bathroom scale and do not turn on the morning TV news. Both can be depressing. If you want to check the weather, use an app on your smartphone. Check the news later, if you’d like.
3. Start planning and researching your next vacation
We all need something good to anticipate, something great on the horizon. Spring is coming. What are your client’s vacation plans? Will they be traveling with family? Friends? Do they belong to a club that does group vacations? Are they traveling solo? Trips need plenty of planning. Start now.
4. Take a cruise now
If your client can afford it, check out “sailing soon savings” on cruise websites. Cruise ships generally head to warmer climates. This might be the season for flying to Florida, but hotels can be expensive, and cruises can be a great deal. The cruise lines often offer attractive airfares, too. If you don’t like the cold weather, head for someplace warm.
5. Keep in touch with friends near and far
It can be very easy to isolate during the winter. We make the excuse that we are hibernating. This can lead to isolation-induced depression. Set aside a certain time of day. Build a list. Call, text or e-mail your friends near and far.
6. Write some letters
This might have gone out of style for younger people, but there can be great pleasure in opening and reading a handwritten letter. The older the generation, the more familiar they are with letter writing. Going to the mailbox and getting a personal letter can bring great joy.
7. Get to the senior center or gym
There are plenty of inclement days when you should stay home. There are many when it is suitable to go out. But everyone needs exercise. The CDC recommends seniors get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week. Advise your client to go somewhere that offers exercise programs or the appropriate equipment. The Silver Sneakers program and others like it can make it inexpensive. You get exercise and socialization on a regular basis.
8. Dine out with friends regularly
It can be tempting to never leave the house. It can get expensive to eat out every day. Your client should find a good balance, but they should try to get to a nice restaurant with cloth napkins and tablecloths at least once a week. They can dine out with the same friends or rotate their partners. Many restaurants have “locals night” menus on the slower nights during the week. The upscale atmosphere can give your spirits a lift.
9. Eat a hot breakfast
It can be tempting to skip breakfast or have cold cereal all the time, but having a hot breakfast in winter just seems to make good sense. They can be creative, too. Oatmeal is one of my favorites. You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
10. Buy fresh flowers for the house
Winter can be bleak. We often think of flowers as an indulgence, something you get from a pricy florist. Supermarkets sell flowers too. The Lidl grocery stores in our area sell a dozen roses for $8.99. Fresh flowers remind you spring is coming.
11. Learn about local festivals
Local organizations have figured out that people get cabin fever in winter. They plan concerts. They organize winter festivals. Encourage your client to find out what is going on in their area. They can write the events on the calendar and cut out the ads and post them on their refrigerator.
12. Get an early start on spring cleaning
We know dust gets delivered daily. Laundry gets done once a week. The trash goes to the curb on a schedule. Meanwhile, the house might be deteriorating into messy conditions. My fear is the police would visit for some plausible reason, look around and ask, “Were you robbed and ransacked?” It would be embarrassing to say, “It always looks that way.” Encourage your client to buy a book on decluttering or choose a room at a time to organize.
13. The days are getting longer; keep track
This can be done on a pad near the phone. Your smartphone should tell you the times of sunrise and sunset each day. Keep track. You will see the days are getting longer.
14. Find a new favorite author
If your client likes novels, mysteries or nonfiction, encourage them to find another writer. They can access their work on Kindle, buy the book via Amazon or borrow from the library. Reading can be an entertaining distraction.
15. Read the magazines you buy, then throw them out
Many of us subscribe to magazines. We often only glance through them because we “have no time.” It is the middle of winter. Now you have time! Pull out any articles you might want to keep. Throw the remainder away. Why get magazines if you don’t read them?
16. Plan for Valentine’s Day
Many people tune out certain holidays. Many claim that Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday. Encourage your client to make a fuss! Perhaps eating out will be a mob scene, but that is no reason to skip the holiday. They can get another couple or two to join them at home for dinner. Each couple prepares a dish. Get out the red tablecloth, napkins and candles. They’re sure to have the right music. Valentine’s Day is an excuse to celebrate. Take advantage.
17. Adopt a pet
My wife and I have always felt a cat or dog makes a house into a home. When you walk through the door, you know there is another living creature in the room. Dogs are always happy to see you. Cats write their own rules but have ways of greeting you too. For me, fish don’t deliver the same pleasure. Assuming they can care for a pet, your client should consider adopting one.
18. Plan some seminars for clients
If older clients are looking for activities, how about putting together a seminar series? This could be done in your office conference room, a restaurant or a rented room at a school. They want activities, you want to educate or introduce new products.
There are many ways you can help older clients get through winter. It is another way you show your value and strengthen the relationship.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” is available on Amazon.