Throughout my life, I have always enjoyed the company of older people. I’ve enjoyed learning about their lives and history through their stories. This characteristic has turned out to be valuable in my career as a financial advisor. Generally, people seek guidance with investing their money as they enter retirement, and this relationship continues throughout their lives.
Through my relationship with Naomi Feil, I have learned some of the basic techniques of Validation. The mission of the Validation method is to nurture respect, dignity and well-being in the lives of older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. While my clients do not have dementia when we begin to work together, the techniques of Validation have helped me communicate effectively with my clients as they age. This foundation within these relationships has given me the ability to see cognitive changes as a client ages, and to have difficult conversations with them and their families earlier, when there is still time to make adjustments that allow them to remain independent as long as possible.
Naomi presented a workshop for my clients many years ago, describing the process of aging and the cognitive changes that often develop as a result. Her demonstration of Validation impacted all of the participants. She taught us the importance of staying in the present and showed the value of adjusting our communication to meet older adults where they are. She demonstrated a technique used in the Validation method, “centering,” which means clearing ourselves of thoughts and feelings which helps us listen closely and communicate openly. She described that many aging adults go through a process of consolidating their memories and trying to resolve difficult experiences from earlier in their lives. Naomi described the value of understanding their history and knowing their stories, so that when they want to discuss their past, we can connect with them and allow them to explore that part of their lives.
Communicating with Validation has made a powerful difference in my life and career. It allows me to provide better guidance on financial matters, in addition to building deep, trusting relationships. It has strengthened my personal and business relationships; made me a better advisor, partner, parent and child.
You can learn how to center using one of the free videos offered by the Validation Training Institute here.
The Validation Training Institute (VTI) is a non-profit organization that advances knowledge, values, education and research rooted in the Validation method. The objective is to nurture respect, dignity and well-being in the lives of older adults experiencing age-related cognitive decline and their caregivers. Our vision for the future is that every older adult experiencing age-related cognitive decline, and their caregiver, can feel the joy and love of meaningful communication.
By: Molly Balunek, CFP, Co-Founder and Financial Planner at Endeavor Wealth Advisors, VTI Board Member