Friday, May 9, 2008

Dreaming Again

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I believe the insurance companies in our country and financial services industry (planners, bankers, etc.) are missing the boat when it comes to seniors. Sure, they have retirement products to sell them, or investments they will advise on, but how about the real issue that is missing for a lot of these clients?

Planning, to me, means more than how much money is in your IRA. For some clients, say those who have carried home and auto insurance through the same agent for years, I can visualize a "senior services" representative of that company who works with clients over 65 to insure they have a will and power of attorney in place. Partnering with local attorneys, assisted living facilities, the local medicare office and other professionals, makes the system easier to negotiate and the senior is already your client. They trust you. Starting the conversation on living arrangements and last wishes, and involving the families, is much easier done by someone trusted and known to the senior.

In my dream world, a senior services representative would know when to refer service organizations, such as meals on wheels or home care services, to the client much as a geriatric case worker would. Only it wouldn't cost what it would to pay a case manager. And there's the rub...the reason why banks and insurance agencies and stock brokers don't have a "senior services" type person to guide the clients into making plans for old age. They can't make money from this service. What would they get out of it? In reality, possible continued business and referrals to friends and family. And goodwill...lots of goodwill.

Any business with a large client base of older people could provide a service such as the one I've described. But social workers need not apply! This is not involvement in the client's care. Several larger companies such as duPont Corporation and Fanny Mae have had eldercare advisors in house for years. As the Baby Boomers begin to retire and the percentage of those over 65 increases, it seems to me that proof of social responsibility by our employers must step up to meet the need. Both for the community and their employees! Maybe I'll live long enough to see my "dream" come true.

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