In this day and age, an ever-increasing number of people live alone during their Golden Years. As a result, seniors engage in a broader array of different types of “preplanning” beyond what was primarily associated with estate planning for many years. In this article, we share the story of Herb, a man in his 80s who lives in an apartment in Arizona. His closest family member is a niece who lives in California.
On his list of concerns, Herb wanted to ensure that provisions were made to deal with the aftermath of what technically is known as an unattended death. In other words, he wanted a strategy in place should he die alone, and his passing ends up not immediately discovered.
Overview of Basic Facts and Statistics About Seniors Who Live Alone
Before diving deeper into Herb’s story, you are well served to consider some basic facts and statistics associated with seniors who reside on their own in this day and age:
- In the United States, over 12 million seniors live alone.
- Nearly 50 percent of women over the age of 75 live alone. A significant number, this highlights the need for robust social support systems for older women.
- 90 percent of seniors who live alone want to stay in their homes as they age. This is understandable because many seniors have established their lives and routines in their homes and may not want to move to a new environment.
- Social isolation and loneliness can lead to many negative health consequences for seniors who live alone, including increased risk of heart disease, depression, and dementia.
- Seniors who live alone are more likely to experience falls and other accidents than those who live with others. Unfortunately, seniors who experience this type of accident may not obtain immediate assistance.
- Many seniors who live alone struggle with financial insecurity and may have difficulty accessing necessary resources and support. As a result, the need for financial aid and resources for seniors living alone may exist.
Definition of an Unattended Death
An unattended death is a term used to describe a situation where a person dies without any medical supervision or when the death is not immediately discovered. This can occur in a person’s home, out in public or any other location. The causes of unattended death can vary widely and may be due to natural causes, an accident, or intentional harm. In many cases, the deceased may have been alone for a prolonged period before their death, making it difficult to determine the exact cause. Due to the lack of immediate medical attention and the prolonged period of time between the person’s death and the discovery of their body, unattended deaths can present significant challenges in terms of investigation and determining the cause of death. Furthermore, unattended deaths can have a profound emotional impact on the deceased’s loved ones.
Insurance and the Unattended Death of a Senior
One of Herb’s concerns pertains to insurance coverage if he dies an unattended death in his apartment. In other words, is there some type of insurance available that would cover the costs associated with unattended death if he should die alone and his passing is not immediately known.
Renter’s insurance is not designed to provide coverage for unattended death cleanup. This type of coverage simply is beyond the terms and conditions of a standard renter’s insurance policy. Moreover, it is seems very unlikely that an insurer would permit a rider on a standard renter’s insurance policy that would cover the costs of unattended death remediation.
It is also important to note that there are not any “biohazard cleanup” insurance policies available in the U.S. market today. In other words, Herb cannot obtain a specialized insurance policy designed to pay the costs associated with unattended death cleanup should such a situation ever arise.
On insurance strategy might be obtaining a life insurance policy from which proceeds can be take to address the costs of unattended death cleanup. With that said, it is important to understand that a life insurance claim settlement might be delayed.
Professional Unattended Death Remediation
Eco Bear provides unattended death cleaning assistance. In the case of Herb and his niece, a discussion was had in regard to how Eco Bear would address an unattended death cleaning situation if that type of situation ever arose.
If an unattended death were to occur, but the remains were discovered in a one to three day period, Eco Bear estimated that the cost for appropriate remediation would be in the neighborhood of $1,500 to $2,000. The cost would increase if a greater time period had elapsed as a result of the fact that remediation becomes more complicated as time passes.
If other cleaning services are needed following such a passing, the fee would increase appropriately. Eco Bear always provides a reliable fee estimate. The company never charges any surprise fees or initially undisclosed costs. Fee transparency is crucial to Eco Bear.
Keep Important Documents and Other Items Readily Accessible
Another step Herb can take to make matters easier for his niece upon his death is to have all important documents and other items readily accessible. This can includes such things as insurance policies and the key to a safe deposit box.
Have Someone Check on Herb
Finally, because his only family member lives a state away, it is important to consider having someone else check on him with regularity. For example, a mailperson can be asked to report letters piling up in Herb’s box. A neighbor might be asked to pop in on Herb with regularity to make sure he is doing ok.