How to advise a client with Alzheimer’s
By Frank N. Darras
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million American seniors are currently suffering from Alzheimer’s. With the baby boomer generation entering retirement age, the probability that you may have a client with Alzheimer’s increases dramatically.
Start by learning how to begin a conversation with your client about the possibility of Alzheimer’s. It may be difficult to bring up the subject, but you will want to advise your client on steps they need to take before such a problem occurs. Age can be a touchy subject for many people, but with some clients, it may be comforting to plan for what’s ahead. Be sure to advise your client to talk with their relatives about dementia so they can begin to discuss any care-giving plans along with conversations on financial and legal matters the disease can bring on.
Some signs your policyholder may have already developed Alzheimer’s include any unsound financial decisions as well as noticeable financial abuse by any relatives or caregivers. Starting to plan with your client early on will help you notice any actions or statements that do not coincide with what they have previously stated or desired.
Those suffering from dementia also have the inclination to hide things or forget where they put them, so make sure they understand all their necessary documentation is in a secure location. In order to help your client plan early on, ask that they have powers of attorney and/or other financial documents prepared and in place, should they need to transfer decision-making authority.
Insurance plays an important role in quality of life after a client has developed Alzheimer’s. The money a policyholder receives will pay for medications, living arrangements and day-to-day care. Hopefully, you have discussed and sold long-term care insurance to cover the chronic care that is needed. Also, be aware of the potential costs of age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s so you know what type of insurance plan to offer based on your client’s income. Build relationships with your client’s family members, especially the trusted person who will advocate on their behalf. They may provide useful information as your client begins to show signs of dementia.
Be sure to protect yourself, as well as your client. Memorialize any and all of your conversations about insurance policies you have offered through written documentation. Walk through any policies the client is interested in so they are aware of the fine print and be sure to explain any confusing language.
With their best interests at heart, come up with procedures and guidelines to use for working with Alzheimer’s clients. By having these in place, you can save yourself and your clients from further challenges in the already daunting world of insurance.