A Field Guide to Dementia

Let us be your guide for planning in the face of dementia.

What’s the Deal?

As a financial professional, the question isn’t “if,” but “how many” of your clients will be affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. Therefore, it’s important for you to be prepared to help your clients understand and address the financial implications of this insidious disease.

Clients afflicted with Alzheimer’s and other dementias need help planning for the financial ramifications associated with this condition. By taking time to help, you’re doing more than dedicating yourself to a noble cause.

You’re further demonstrating your value to clients, earning their trust, and developing relationships that can overlap generations.

Through our collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, we’ve developed several comprehensive pieces designed to help prepare you to help clients and families plan for the costs associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of dementia.

Alzheimer’s explained in 100 words

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other causes of dementia.

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So what…Why it matters

Clients afflicted with Alzheimer’s and other dementias need help preparing for the financial ramifications associated with this condition. By taking time to help, you’re doing more than dedicating yourself to a noble cause. You’re further demonstrating your value to clients, earning their trust, and developing relationships that can overlap generation.

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The 3 Stages of Decline

There are several action steps financial professionals can take to help clients and families as Alzheimer's disease and other common causes of dementia transition through the mild, moderate, and severe stages.

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The 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life

Examples include forgetting recently learned information, important dates or events, or repeatedly asking for the same information.

2. Challenges in planning or solving problems

Some people may experience changes in their ability to follow a recipe or monitor monthly bills.

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks

People with alzheimer’s may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work, or remembering rules to a favorite game.

4. Confusion with time or place

Examples include losing track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. People with alzheimer’s may, at times, forget where they are or how they got there.

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

Some people with alzheimer’s may have trouble reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast, potentially causing problems with driving.

*These warning signs, provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, are not always a sign of Alzheimer’s; they could be the sign of a disease that is treatable. If you are concerned about a client, encourage that person to see a doctor.

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing

This involves problems with following or joining conversations. People with Alzheimer’s may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue. They may also have trouble remembering words to identify objects (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock.”)

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

An example is placing things in unusual places and not remembering where the individual had been before losing them.

8. Decreased or poor judgment

This includes making extravagant purchases or giving large amounts of money to telemarketers. People with dementia may also pay less attention to personal hygiene.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities

Some people with alzheimer’s may begin to have trouble following their favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a project associated with a favorite hobby.

10. Changes in mood and personality

Mood changes can include confusion, depression, or the acts of being suspicious, fearful, or anxious. People with alzheimer’s may also become easily upset at home, at work, or with friends.

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5 Steps to Preparing the Financial Plan

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab developed a five-topic framework to discuss planning and Alzheimer’s disease. These subjects cover distinct financial-management issues and caregiving plans. Ideally, you will lead these conversations with clients and their agents in the mild decline stage of Alzheimer’s, or even before the diagnosis; however, if the client’s disease is advanced, you might need to talk solely with the client’s agent and family members.

3 Tips for Communicating with Clients with Dementia

Imagine the frustration you would feel if you had to struggle to remember the words needed to communicate with an acquaintance, close friend or loved one. This is the reality people with dementia experience every day. Here are three valuable tips for communicating with clients living with dementia.

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A Field Guide to Financial Planning in the Shadow of Dementia

Why Dementia Matters to You

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