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Why It Matters:
Total costs for those living with dementia are estimated at $259 billion in 2017.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Understanding the disease can give you the tools to better serve your most vulnerable clients and their families.
For financial professionals, it’s not a question of “if” but “how many” of your clients will eventually be impacted by Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Families affected by dementia may look to you for help. Do you have the proper resources to help them prepare for the financial ramifications associated with the disease? According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for loved ones with dementia — valued at $230 billion in 2016.
By taking active steps to help these clients, you’re doing more than dedicating yourself to a noble cause. You’re helping them address their long-term well-being, building on their trust, and developing relationships that can bridge generations.
Understand the three stages
Alzheimer’s – and other common dementias – have three basic stages: mild, moderate, and severe. Because the disease is progressive, each stage provides a limited window for discussing (and committing to) financial, legal, and caregiver decisions. For a detailed breakdown of the three stages and your role in each, read How to Help Clients During the Three Stages of Cognitive Decline.
Understand what’s at stake
The cognitive decline and health issues associated with dementia are only half the picture. There’s the family to consider, assets, income, risk of financial fraud, estate planning, and care management to take into account. Much of this is complicated, so we’ve streamlined this into five steps for preparing these clients’ financial strategies. See our Field Guide to Dementia for the full breakdown.
Understand the impact
For caregivers, witnessing the cognitive decline of a loved one can be painful. This can take a toll over time, with caregivers reporting feelings of guilt, stress, anger, depression, and isolation. We recommend sharing the 10 Symptoms of Caregiver Stress with clients who are impacted by dementia (personally or as a caregiver). At the end of the article they’ll find tips for managing stress, as well as the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline.
More resources for financial professionals
It’s our goal to help you better understand dementia and how it can affect your clients and business. Here are a few more resources to help further increase your value as a financial professional.
A Field Guide to Dementia: Written in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab, this guide began as the core of our research and covers much of the above in greater detail.
Your Client Has Alzheimer’s: Now What?: A good starting point for financial professionals new to this topic.
4 Ways to Develop a Dementia-Friendly Business: Alzheimer’s advocate Lori La Bey shares tips with financial professionals in this powerful video.
Things to Consider:
Family matters can often be personal. Try to put yourself in your clients’ shoes when discussing matters like dementia.
The Stanford Center on Longevity is a great resource on the evolving needs of aging America.
You’re in a unique position to not only build bridges, but to also build your brand.