Dangerous Older Drivers: A Car is a Lethal Weapon


“She only drives to the store”.

“He doesn’t drive at night, he just drives to the doctor and to church”.

Imagine the justifications people can invent to allow dangerous aging parents to stay behind the wheel. These are statements from family members whose elder is no longer safe to drive, but they’re still driving.  No one has the guts to ask Dad or Mom to stop.   Since most accidents happen within 3 miles of home, the “only to church” or “only to the store” is not safer than anywhere else.

The National Safety Council publishes a journal called Family Safety and Health, and in its Fall, 2012 issue, an article, “Time to Hand Over the Keys” appears.  I was interviewed for the article.  As a former personal injury lawyer, I represented hundreds of victims of car accidents, some caused by older drivers who never should have been on the road.  That dangerous driver could be your dad, your grandma or your aunt.  The next generation needs to see the problem and face the fear about confronting it.

Research indicates that most people, when approached respectfully, will voluntarily give up driving.  However, “ most people” does not include the very stubborn, those in denial, and those elders with the kind of cognitive impairment that prevents them from actually understanding how impaired they are.  With those folks, their families desperately need a strategy.

Here’s a sampling of parts from the strategy I advocate that you use.

First, recognize the problem.  A car is a lethal weapon whether your elder is driving it a block from home or across the city.  It is not a safer weapon because your elder is closer to home.  That’s a fanatasy. Give it up. I met an 84 year old who was behind the wheel when he accidentally hit and killed his best friend in the driveway of his own apartment building.

Next, be honest and respectful and talk to your aging loved one about his or her driving. If you’ve see grandma careen across the street cutting off other cars, unaware of their presence, it’s time to gently ask her to give up the keys.  Try a one-on -one conversation first.

Next, add allies to your approach if the one-on-one is not successful.  Bring in a trusted friend, other family, or anyone Dad likes best.  Bring up the subject kindly and with acknowledgement that giving up driving is huge and that it means losing independence.  Use an outside professional if this doesn’t work.

Make alternative transportation arrangements.  If your elder lives in an urban area, many resources may be available for elders, from community vans to carpools from senior centers.  Beware of putting cognitively impaired elders on buses. They may be confused and get lost.  Rural dwellers must usually rely on family and friends to transport them.  The burden on adult children may stop them from facing the issue of a parent’s dangerous driving.

If the elder is too dangerous to continue driving, get rid of the car if you can.  Sometimes a caregiver can do the driving and the aging person keeps the car. If there is no caregiver or someone else’s car is used to transport, the elder’s car is a sad reminder and a temptation you don’t want kept in the driveway.  It’s too easy for Dad to get a duplicate set of keys made.

Use the law as a last resort.  The primary care doctor may be of help if willing to report the danger or need for retesting to the department of motor vehicles.  Some states allow you to report a dangerous driver and ask for license retesting anonymously.  The courts can be used to protect elders who are a danger to themselves or others. Guardianship can be used in extreme cases to give family permission to take the car away.

Some older drivers are fine, like my mother in law, Alice, 90.  She limits her driving to daytime. She is still quite sharp, has a great memory and sense of direction and pays attention to what is on the road.  I wouldn’t classify her as dangerous, but she’s in the minority at her age.

Asking an aging loved one to give up driving takes courage. It can draw extreme resistance, anger and refusal.  Facing that possibility requires a plan and perhaps a family conference before approaching a particularly difficult elder.  I urge you to find your courage if your elder is scaring you when he or she gets behind the wheel.  Sometimes elders know it’s time and will give up driving willingly when asked.  You might be lucky.  In any event, it’s time to take your chances if this article reminds you of anyone close to you.

Carolyn RosenblattBy Carolyn Rosenblatt, Forbes Contributor

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Personal finance: what rich Asian women want for their money?


Starting today, StarBizWeek features a column on personal finance called Money & You, which will focus on money matters as they relate to YOU. Our two writers will take turns every fortnight to shed light on personal finance matters.

■ Yap Ming Hui is an independent financial advisor and author of five best-selling books on personal finance. He is the managing director of Whitman Independent Advisors, an independent financial advisory firm licensed by Securities Commission and Bank Negara Malaysia. Since 2000, Yap and his team of licensed independent financial advisors have successfully helped numerous clients achieve financial freedom. Yap believes that all Malaysians can fully optimise their wealth using a holistic wealth management approach

Carol Yip, founder of Abacus For Money, believes that if people understand their money mindset, behaviour and money psychology, they can be financially happy and successful. She actively promotes financial literacy and intelligence within families and for women, youths and retirees.

MONEY & YOU By CAROL YIP

WOMEN in Asia are building and inheriting more wealth than ever before. According to Boston Consulting Group (BSG) 2010 report, the percentage of wealth controlled by women in Asia (ex Japan) is rising nearing 30% annually and total wealth controlled by women reached RM2.8 trillion in 2010. Their heightened visibility in financial circles can be traced to more women achieving success in the workforce and a greater number of women actively managing family finances. Kim Sung-Joo recently made her debut on the inaugural Forbes list of Asia’s Power Businesswomen in celebration of International Women’s Day recently. She is the youngest daughter of an energy conglomerate tycoon in South Korea and created her wealth from luxury fashion.

The increasing number of wealthy women is also partly because they are inheriting wealth due to their longevity. Puan Sri Lee Kim Hua, 81, widow of the late casino magnate Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, is one of the 40 richest Malaysians on the 2012 Forbes Asia list.

Without a doubt, Asian women are creating significant financial visibility. But are bankers and wealth advisors paying sufficient attention to this alluring segment of the market?

Women of wealth

Based on research conducted in 2011 by the Family Wealth Advisors Council, a network of US-based, independent fee-only wealth management firms, the financial services industry has a long way to go if it wishes to provide the kind of service wealthy women say they want. The title of the study of high net-worth American women says it all: “Women of Wealth: Why Does the Financial Services Industry Still Not Hear Them?”

Involving 551 women across the United States with a net worth of US$1mil or more, the study collected survey questionnaire data across marital status, employment status, age and net worth. The research looked at what worries wealthy women:

About 86% of working women surveyed consider obsolete careers and eroding earning power as risks to their financial success;

Married women believe health challenges present a greater risk to their financial security than the death of a spouse;

About 96% of women want their unique circumstances and their entire life picture understood by their financial advisor;

About 80% of women (either married or divorced) believe that they will be called on at some point to help one or more of their children in a crisis;

About 81% of retirees see a potential decline in the economy as a major risk, versus 45% of full-time working women; and

About 57% of married women feel that divorce poses a significant risk to their financial well-being.

With women’s economic clout in the workplace and purchasing power in all consumer and commercial markets increasing, their dissatisfaction with the financial services industry is also growing. The study clearly showed that women do not like to be considered a monolithic group, but want services tailored to their specific circumstances. Evidence suggests that wealthy women in Asia Pacific are also having similar experiences.

Different women different needs

As more women call the shots on money, they also want their wealth advisors to do a better job of meeting their needs. They want the same attention, advice, terms and deals that men get with advisers who provide investment recommendations. But, at the same time, women want advisors to tailor services to them because they have very different needs and expectations than men.

In the BSG survey, women said advisors tend to assume they have a lower risk tolerance than men, so advisors provide only a narrow range of investment alternatives. Some women claimed that advisors for women are too quick to focus on strategies that don’t emphasise on performance, assuming that women are more inclined to make investment decisions based on social issues. With these and other study insights, wealth advisors who service female clients should foremostly recognise that women want to be treated differently. Some suggestions come from the findings:

Women want to be understood as unique individuals. They want an advisor who listens to their needs and is trustworthy. A fiduciary advisor who knows how to create strategic investment allocations based on a women’s situation, goals and risk appetite will stand a better chance of securing their business.

Women are looking for advisors who can provide advance planning, relationship management and investment advice a one-stop boutique financial centre.

The wealth advisor’s gender plays an important part of the financial planning process for wealthy ladies. Female wealth advisors will be able to relate better to their situations and challenges than men.

Women’s investment attitude

It’s no surprise that women’s behaviour as earners, investors and savers is the subject of a large and growing body of behavioural economic research, which has yielded important findings. Women prefer to focus on long-term investment goals and seek holistic advice. When women invest, they tend to look for informed advice and better rate of return than men. Women can be too conservative in their approach, especially given the fact that they tend to live longer than men. Ultimately, from the way they seek financial information and advice, to their understanding of the long term, women’s financial behaviour holds crucial lessons for all financial advisors.

Women may also tend to limit their trading far more than men do. They prioritise by protecting principal rather than taking risks to grow their assets. A study by the University of Michigan’s Retirement Research Center finds that men frequently and unnecessarily trade their holdings. All other things being equal, the male participants trade 56% more than their female counterparts, and the more they trade, the worse their performance becomes “a result of a too-rosy estimation of their own investment skills,” the researchers write.

The landmark study on gender differences in stock investing also finds that men tend to sell too early, or to swap assets for new ones that underperformed what they havve sold. By contrast, women are more inclined to take the long-term view and understand that performance in many cases are best measured over time.

Huge potential

Women’s financial behaviour and preferences across varied situations show major differences from men’s. Women’s financial strengths are significant. So are their challenges.

The provision of tailored wealth management services for wealthy women is much needed. There is a unique opportunity for the financial services industry to design investment, insurance, trust and estate planning products and services that better address women’s needs, psychological preferences, life values and different life stages.

Wealth is a “means of life planning rather than a goal in itself” for women. The one-size-fits-all concept is no longer appropriate. Customised fitting is always the preferred choice to make wealthy female clients happy. Wealthy female clients will be loyal customers when wealth advisors deliver the results they want. A long-term trusting client-advisor relationship will be the result.

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Soros makes Forbes Top 10 rich list


SINGAPORE: Microsoft founder Bill Gates has retained his top spot on the Forbes 2011 ranking of the richest people in America with US$59bil.

The number two spot went to Warren Buffett with US$39bil and Larry Ellison (No. 3) with US$33bil.

George Soros (pic), in seventh spot, joins the Top 10 for the first time, with US$22bil, and is one of the 27 hedge fund managers – 7% of the Forbes 400 – featured in Hedged Fortunes.

George Soros

This year, entrepreneurs dominate the ranks, comprising an all-time high of 70% of the Forbes 400 members.

Enthusiasm for popular brands, like Starbucks and Forever 21, has helped boost some fortunes, while the spread of social media has sparked others.

The combined wealth of America’s richest is US$1.5 trillion, with an average net worth of US$3.8bil, reflecting a 12% uptick from 2010.

Wealth was up for 262 members of this year’s list, while 72 members saw a decline.

The Forbes 400 welcomed 18 new members in 2011 (Fresh faces), including Sean Parker (No. 200) who rocked the music industry with Napster and helped build Facebook (agent of disruption), John Henry (No. 375), majority owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC, Jeffrey Skoll (No. 139) whose Participant Media’s most recent release, “The Help”, has grossed nearly US$143mil to date and Forever 21’s Jin Sook & Do Won Chang (No. 88).

Every member of the Top 20 gained wealth this year, with the exception of Buffett, down US$6bil from 2010, the largest dollar amount loss of any 400 member.

The year’s biggest dollar gainer is Mark Zuckerberg (No. 14), who cracked the Top 20 with a gain of US$10.6bil.

Among the 42 women on the list are media mogul Oprah Winfrey (No. 139) newcomer Gayle Cook (No. 96) and Meg Whitman (No. 331). – Bernama

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