Risk Threads – 3rd Edition

Each month, we will highlight trends we hear in conversations throughout our advisor network and identify the risk implications of those trends. We’ll discuss the ways families and their advisors can take proactive steps to prevent and minimize forecasted and current risks.

Our third edition of Risk Threads features tips on understanding the aging process and the risks that might come with it. What additional risks arise when we have to navigate the aging process for family members and loved ones?

These are some areas of concern that come with aging, and while this list is not exhaustive, they’re some of the more common situations we encounter:

  1. Driving
  2. Hiring help
  3. Retrofitting the home

Driving

Access to a car for more senior family members or loved ones creates additional hazards and the likelihood for loss due to an auto accident.  A recent study conducted by IIHS found that drivers seventy-five and older are about four times more likely to die than middle-aged drivers when they are involved in a side impact crash and about three times more likely to die in a frontal crash. These trends can be partially attributed to older, smaller vehicles with fewer safety features.

The last thing we want our loved ones or family members to deal with is a lawsuit, so at what point do you take away their access to driving? This is understandably a difficult subject to broach because it means having to communicate with someone that they’re losing a lot of autonomy and freedom. The national highway traffic and safety administration recommends looking out for these key signs as indicators that you should have this difficult conversation:

  • Getting lost on familiar routes
  • Receiving tickets or driving violations
  • Having accidents or close calls
  • Having trouble reading or recognizing road signs
  • Difficulty hearing emergency sirens or people honking
  • Health issues, such as fainting or dizziness

 

Framing this conversation as one about safety might be a good way to approach the subject. Every driver is different, and the goal is to ensure that the person you care about is safe. Luckily, today there are alternative solutions that can help aging individuals navigate this transition so that they can still exercise their personal agency. People now have the option to use food delivery services and ride-share apps, as well as access to platforms where you can hire people for various errands.

 

Hiring Help

The process for hiring help in the home can be a tedious process filled with legal landmines. Here are areas of risk you need to address to reduce your family’s likelihood of loss:

  • Who are you going to hire? The first step in the hiring process is understanding the needs of the family member and the duties of the person who will be helping them. The responsibilities and skillset of someone providing in-home assistance like cooking and cleaning will look very different from someone providing skilled care.
  • Who is in charge of the hiring process? Hiring an employee in the home requires the same level of professionalism and due diligence as in the office. If you do not feel comfortable with this process, leave it to experts who’ve taken the time to learn and understand your family’s unique needs. They can take care of writing an accurate job description, interviewing candidates, conducting background checks, and delineating an employment agreement. Being thorough from the onset of the hiring process can avoid you trouble down the road. Will they be an employee or an independent contractor?
  • What are your responsibilities as an employer? These can include tax considerations, a FEIN number, obtaining employment verification, conducting background checks, obtaining workers’ compensation and disability insurance, and payroll.

Being thorough from the onset of the hiring process and through an employee’s tenure diminishes the likelihood that you’ll encounter trouble in the form of a lawsuit or legal action by a regulatory body.

Retrofitting the Home

For family members who want to age in place, making the home as safe as possible for this transition is essential. Your goal will be to make the home more accessible. You can begin with simple modifications like grab bars in bathrooms or switching outdoor knobs to lever-style handles. As someone’s needs grow over time, you might need to invest in upgrades to the home such as wider doorways, lower light switches, and complete kitchen and bath remodels.

Don’t forget to review your homeowner’s insurance policy to understand the remodeling cost threshold in which insureds must notify their carrier of the remodeling. Failure to notify the insurer could cause a gap in coverage in the event of a loss. Next, take time to vet experts so that you choose someone who knows how to safely make the proper changes to make the home accessible. Look for experts who are properly trained, licensed, and insured.

Work with a Team of Experts

Seeing a family or loved one age can be a difficult transition for them and those close to them. When people age, their safety, and well-being should be the number one priority. By making this a priority, you’re more likely to avoid accidents and potential lawsuits in the future. If you’re having difficulty navigating the aging process and want to ensure you’re doing all you can to protect a family member or loved one, connect with our team today. We have the experience to help you mitigate the risks that come with aging.

 

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