In the November issue of Senior Market Advisor, we take an in-depth look at the damage Alzheimer’s causes individuals, families, caregivers and even our entire health-care-related economy.
As I think about this debilitating, cognitive disease, the question that continues to stare back at me from the page is this — what is the role financial advisors can play in counseling aging clients who may be exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia?
Many of you reading this column know the Glenn Neasham story. If you don’t, in short, Neasham sold an annuity to a woman who was later diagnosed with dementia. Years after the sale, Neasham was convicted of “felony theft from an elder” in California Superior Court and, initially, sentenced to 300 days in jail. In October, The Appellate Court of California reversed the Neasham conviction.
On many levels, the Neasham case was as important to the insurance and financial industry as it was to the agent involved. Had the initial ruling stuck, it would have been the tip of the iceberg for the industry. We have enough litigation in this country (most everyone without a JD behind their name would argue too much) and don’t need the additional tsunami of consumers firing up legal complaints about the handling of their elderly family member — whether founded in fact or not.
Before you rush to judge any position I may have regarding the Neasham case, let me say right here, right now: I am not a lawyer and I’m not going to play one here. To me, legal briefs sound like correctional facility-issued underwear. I’ll leave legal analysis of the Neasham case and any additional fallout to industry organizations such as FSP, AALU, LIDMA, NAFA, NAHU and NAILBA, who supported Neasham and the greater financial services industry in this case.
A positive role to play
Instead, I am here to talk about the positive role advisors can play for their aging and ailing clients. I spoke with Dallas-based advisor Mark Pruitt, who has confronted Alzheimer’s with both clients and family members, to glean his insight on advisors and the disease.