Are you feeling caught between a rock and a hard place with your aging clients who may have dementia? They may ask you to do dangerous things or take ridiculous risks. They may no longer follow your advice as they once did. They can readily be victimized by telemarketing scams, Internet thieves and other clever con artists. At the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease, there is already moderate cognitive impairment, according to research by Dr. Daniel Marson at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
You may realistically fear being on the receiving end of accusations that you should not have complied with a client’s outrageous demands for releasing funds to obvious crooks. The family of your client would likely be outraged if all the money is gone and you knew your client was being scammed. But is firing the client the only solution?
At AgingInvestor.com, we think you have good alternatives to dropping your elderly client at the first sign of dementia or other cognitive problems. These alternatives exist if you have anticipated that some clients will develop dementia and you are prepared ahead of time.
First, you need to educate yourself.
What exactly should you look for and how should you interpret a client’s behavior? We advise that you don’t have to be a doctor or a diagnostician to figure that out. Anyone can learn the warning signs of dementia with appropriate instruction. You need to act reasonably: that is what the law requires of all of us. If your client is departing from long-standing patterns, putting himself in financial danger, and you do nothing, that is not acting reasonably.
If you see warning signs you need to take action. That will inevitably mean that you must involve an appointed third party. That is at the heart of what we teach. Any well-planned senior-specific policy that you adopt as an individual planner or as a firm should involve a proactive plan to have your client appoint a successor to make financial decisions while your client is fully competent. Privacy is waived by your client’s permission, so that you can, under circumstances that are spelled out in the policy, contact the appointed person with your concerns.