A Field Guide to Dementia

Protecting Wealth for an Aging America

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.

Through our collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 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.

Tips for Starting the Conversation About Alzheimer's

Talking with clients and families about Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult, especially for financial professionals who might not consider it their place to broach the topic.

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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 helping them address their wealth and health,  demonstrating your value to clients, earning their trust, and developing relationships that can overlap generation.

Alzheimer’s Association, 2017

Communicating with Clients with Dementia [Video]

Learn these three valuable tips to effectively communicate with this clientele.

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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.

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

A person with Alzheimer’s may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, the accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

8. Decreased or poor judgment

People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports.

10. Changes in mood and personality

The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

The 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s 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.

5 Steps to Preparing the Financial Strategy

Researchers at the MIT AgeLab developed a five-topic framework to discuss Alzheimer’s disease and financial strategies. 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.

4 Ways to Develop a Dementia Friendly Business

Alzheimer’s advocate Lori La Bey urges financial professionals to do four things to help them develop a dementia-friendly business.

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Related Articles

Support Materials

The following materials are available as additional resources

The Field Guide to Financial Strategies for Those Living with Dementia series also includes presentations designed specifically to educate you and your clients. Contact your Transamerica wholesaler to schedule your seminar today.

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