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Signs Your Client Might Be Suffering A Dementia-Related Disease

How to recognize when a client might be operating at a limited mental capacity.

A financial advisor plays many roles in their clients’ lives. Apart from providing financial expertise through the good times and the bad, specifically, being able to recognize when a client’s mental faculties might be operating at a limited capacity. This is the type of responsibility that many other professions don’t have to bear.

Let’s say you operate a restaurant and a customer suffering from dementia orders an entree. By the time it arrives at the table, the customer is agitated because they had forgotten what they ordered. Now that customer wants something else. While it might be an uncomfortable or awkward situation, it can be handled rather swiftly without getting the authorities involved.

It’s not so simple for advisors. There are legal ramifications when making or following financial decisions involving a client suffering from a dementia-related impairment. It’s important to keep this in mind, especially when working with clients you’ve known for many years.

The same way it’s difficult to acknowledge that a parent is getting older, having remembered them spry and active, it can be the same with a client you’ve known for many years. Little things can easily be overlooked out of loyalty, friendship, or that client just having an “off day.”

The MEMRI Script

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It’s always good practice to be aware of the warning signs. To increase advisor awareness of this issue, MarketPsych put together the MEMRI checklist, a five-point mnemonic that helps signify if you should refer a client to a specialist for further evaluation:

  • M = Memory Lapses. Signs include: Forgetting familiar names, demonstrating “word-finding difficulties,” inability to retain new information.
  • E = Emotional Liability. Signs include: Anger flashes, impulsive behavior, inappropriate risk taking.
  • M = Math Loss. Signs include: Difficulty with simple calculations like making change or balancing a checkbook.
  • R = Recognition Lacking. Signs include: Inability to recognize familiar faces or places including being found wandering or lost; missing or not remembering scheduled appointments; neglecting their appearance when it was never an issue in the past.
  • I = Insight Limited. Signs include: Is your client indifferent or “irrationally dismissive” at the mention of possible dementia issues? The checklist states that when confronted, a person without insight will find a way to talk around the issue, the same way they might with concerned friends and family.

MarketPsych released this checklist a few years ago and suggests advisors go over it annually for clients over the age of 65. While it’s obviously not your job or place to diagnose or interrogate a client possibly suffering from a sensitive and debilitating condition, it is your place to use a tool like this, or one of your own making, to keep track and assess any possible liability issues that could put your practice (or freedom) in jeopardy.

Questions To Consider

we want your feedback

Here at Everplans we’re interested in capturing real voices and sound advice from experienced experts so we can help and educate other professionals and our platform users when it comes to managing difficult situations. If you can offer any insight into the following areas, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us:

  • As the population ages, how have you dealt with issues of this nature?
  • Do you have any tips or stories to help other advisors manage dementia-related situations?

[Resource: MarketPsych’s MEMRI Script]

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