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Steps to Take When You Think a Client Has Dementia

March 9, 2018

Financial-advice clients who appear to be suffering from dementia can be very difficult to work with, but advisors can be proactive about helping in such cases, Beverly Flaxington writes in Advisor Perspectives.

Clients who don’t have any close family can be harder to help, but advisors still have options, according to Flaxington. For starters, advisors should first determine whether the apparent symptoms of dementia — say, clients becoming aggressive or combative for no reason — are not due to a particularly stressful recent event.

To find out, advisors should simply ask if anything is wrong, explaining their concern by observing that the client hasn’t seemed herself lately, according to Flaxington. It may turn out that the client’s dog has been terminally ill, for example.

In case the client becomes incapacitated, advisors should look over the client’s financial plans to ensure a trusted person has been named agent over the accounts under a power-of-attorney agreement, according to Flaxington. FAs should recommend that all clients, not just older ones, have such agreements in place and that they are up to date.

Further, advisors can turn to elder-care lawyers, according to Flaxington. Such experts can determine whether the client is suffering from dementia and assist in taking the next steps, such as admitting them to a facility, she writes.

Finally — and this is Flaxington’s least favorite option — it’s possible for advisors to reach out to friends and co-workers to talk about their concerns about a client. But that’s going behind the client’s back and perhaps giving heed to people who don’t have the client’s very best interests at heart.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the Advisor Perspectives article cited in this story, click here.