Why It Matters:
  • A person in the mild or early stages of cognitive decline can still participate in financial decisions.
  • Those showing early signs of dementia may want to act now to financially prepare for the future.
  • Financial professionals who can be there for families affected by dementia provide a noble, valuable service.

A common misconception with Alzheimer’s disease is that people recently diagnosed have lost their memories and can no longer process new information, whether it’s about their health or their finances.

This isn’t the case.

In most cases, a client in the early stages of dementia can still participate in financial decisions.

“When a person is in mild (cognitive) decline, the likelihood is that they still have the legal capacity to plan,” said Doug Ewing, a director in Advanced Markets at Transamerica. “Simply put, legal capacity is the ability to understand information, make a rational decision, and then communicate those decisions. If the client can do these things, then they should be able to put a plan in place.”

Ewing said financial professionals who don’t have a basic understanding about Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia, may find it challenging to work with clients and families living with the disease.

That’s why we’ve created an educational series designed to help you with clients affected by this devastating condition.

The foundation for the series is our  Field Guide to Financial Strategies for Those Living With Dementia, written in collaboration with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab.

Transamerica and MIT AgeLab released our first version of the guide in October 2014, and it has gone on to earn several awards*. This year we’ve given it a facelift, with more information and online resources to share with clients.

As before, the Field Guide provides a digestible framework to help you create a feasible strategy for clients and families living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

“Our goal is to help (financial professionals) develop a game plan,” said Ewing, who has given dozens of presentations on dementia to thousands of professionals like you nationwide over the last few years. “The first step is to understand dementia and know how to spot the early signs. From there, we try to offer some guidance on steps clients can take to protect themselves.”

Your interest in our dementia series has fueled our passion to deliver meaningful materials to help enhance your practice as you provide a noble service to clients and families living with the condition.

Check out our resources online. Or you can get a printed copy of our updated guide − and learn more about our dementia presentation for financial professionals − by contacting your Transamerica wholesaler.

*Our series (previously titled “Financial Planning in the Shadow of Dementia”) has won the 2016 Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) Individual Award, 2016 Business Marketing Association (BMA) of Colorado gold award for Best Strategy, the 2016 Global Aegon Award for Best Community Engagement, the 2016 Wealth Management Award for Insurance Service category, and the 2016 Mutual Fund Education Alliance (MFEA) Star Award.

Things to Consider:
  • You don’t have to be an expert on dementia. Simply knowing where to find resources for clients allows you to build trust.
  • Check out Transamerica’s resources.
  • For families feeling overwhelmed, you can suggest the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24-hour Helpline, at 800-272-3900.