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Help Your Aging Clients be Safe at Home

By Kathleen Pritchard

Mar 19, 2014 @ 12:01 am (Updated 1:39 pm) EST

Love begins by taking care of the closest ones - the ones at home. --Mother Teresa


We all appreciate our homes as a source and symbol of our independence. From the moment we buy our first home, and even as we get older, our homes often represent much more to us than just a place to live.

But even dream homes that were convenient when we were younger can be problematic in our senior years. If you have clients approaching their elder years – or have clients with elderly parents – who have decided to age in place, it's important to discuss how to best reconfigure their homes to accommodate their new or changing needs. You might be asking: “Why would that matter to me?” I'm not a carpenter or a builder! No, you're their trusted financial advisor, and reconfiguring a home can be costly and that impacts their financial plan. You need to play a crucial role helping your clients make cost-effective choices that accomplish their short-term objectives while not forfeiting their long-term economic security.

Related Item: Download "Aging and its financial implications: planning for housing", a new whitepaper by Legg Mason in collaboration with The Center for Innovative Care in Aging

A smart first step toward sound, long-term, eldercare planning is to focus on the safety of the home to prevent accidents that can be life-changing and potentially wipe out savings. Working in partnership with The Center for Innovative Care in Aging at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, we developed a Home Safety Assessment Checklist – a guide to the features of a home that may be unsafe for your clients or their parents as they age.

Here is just a snap-shot of the important questions senior homeowners should consider:

•Is there significant lighting all around your house?

•Are your driveway and walkways smooth and evenly paved and is the slope low enough?

•Are your steps even and in good condition, and are there hand rails at all steps?

•Does your porch have a railing?

•Does your decking have secure floorboards with no nails sticking up?

•Is there a clear pathway (devoid of clutter) through the entry hall and hallways?

•Are there grab bars in the bathroom?

•Is furniture stable and do throw rugs have anti-skid backing?

•Do windows and doors open easily?

•If necessary, is the entryway wide enough for a wheelchair/ walker?

While there are many easy and inexpensive improvements that can be made to help improve their safety such as grab bars in bathrooms, handrails and wider entry ways, other changes might be substantial. It's important to keep in mind:

• If your client has Medicare they can ask their primary doctor for a prescription for a home safety evaluation from an occupational therapist who has the skills and knowledge to evaluate the safety of their home.

• Any home modifications they decide to make should be conducted by licensed and bonded contractors that are familiar with Universal Design principles.

Related Item: Download "Aging clients and their families", a new whitepaper by Legg Mason in collaboration with The Center for Innovative Care in Aging .

Help your aging clients, or clients with aging parents, create a safe environment so they can reduce the risks of accidents that can potentially lead to personal and financial disaster.

Click here to register for the on-demand Legg Mason webcast "Aging: The Most Important Conversation You're NOT Having With Your Clients". Learn even more as Kathleen Pritchard dives into exclusive findings about aging and housing; sign up today!

Kathleen Pritchard is a Managing Director and the Head of Advisor Business Development at Legg Mason Global Asset Management. This article is part of a sponsored series, 'The crisis facing your aging clients', which includes a full client-approved brochure/workbook, worksheets, a whitepaper outlining recent research and resources for advisors to leverage to discuss the financial implications of aging directly with their clients.

All investments involve risk, including loss of principal. Legg Mason is not affiliated with InvestmentNews, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing or their Center for Innovative Care in Aging. © 2014 Legg Mason Investor Services, LLC is a subsidiary of Legg Mason, Inc. FN1410950

To download the worksheet "Making the grade: Home safety assessment", fill out the form below.

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