Due to advances in medical care and increased longevity, Americans are leading longer and more productive lives than previous generations. With the benefit of longevity, comes the increasing risk of cognitive decline, notably Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 15% of those over the age 65 have some form of dementia, and by the age of 85 it can grow to around 50%; in fact, the greatest known factor for developing the disease comes from increasing age.
Advanced planning and early communication are extremely important when dealing with clients who suffer from cognitive impairment. The gradual loss of memory affects decisiveness, which can result in disastrous financial results. Clients with diminished capacity can also be susceptible to financial abuse, often from those close to them. Senior financial abuse, a grossly underreported crime, is defined as the improper use of a senior’s funds, property, or assets. Financial abuse may be suspected when a client displays inconsistent activity, such as increases in withdrawals or atypical purchases.
Our Trusted Contact Authorization Form, which we ask each client age 62 and above to complete, gives us contact information should we have concerns about your cognitive ability, or suspect signs of financial abuse. In the event that we notice a change in a client’s appearance, communication, or behavior, we may reach out to the client’s trusted contact to share our observations.
If warranted, we may ask a family member to participate in client meetings or calls in the future. This can be an important step in helping to avoid confusion about what was covered in the meeting. Lastly, we are able to serve as a referral resource for eldercare providers and health care professionals. Cognitive decline can be frightening. Working collaboratively with your loved ones, we can help to ensure that your interests, as well as your assets, are well protected.
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