This story first appeared on alzlive.com, a web site devoted to the unpaid family caregivers of those living with dementia.
Visiting a bank or other financial office can be challenging.
Even in today’s electronic world some financial matters need to be handled in person at the financial institution.
Keeping an individual with early or mid-stage Alzheimer’s participating in the management of their money for as long as possible is an important part of ensuring their voice is heard and their dignity is preserved.
Bear in mind that the progress of Alzheimer’s will mean different levels of involvement for the person living with Alzheimer’s in their personal finances. Be strategic in planning these visits, reducing the stress for everyone and increasing the likelihood of accomplishing your goals.
On the day of the appointment… assess if this is a good day for the individual living with Alzheimer’s before leaving home. Remain in control of the situation and cancel and rebook for a different day if they may be unable to function at their best level.
An appointment earlier in the day… is likely to reduce the possibility of behaviour management problems. The person living with dementia is exerting a tremendous amount of energy as they move through their day.
They are often trying to figure out how to do things that previously were simple tasks. They are focused on trying to figure out what to do next.
Sequencing even simple steps becomes challenging. Early morning appointments are more likely to catch the person at their optimum level of performance and reduce levels of agitation.
Overstimulation… immediately before the appointment is counterproductive. Contact the office or bank ahead of time and request that a quiet room be provided while waiting for the appointment to begin. Banks have increasingly used video technologies to market their services. Not only is the teller’s station busy while transactions are underway, but often the video screens located directly behind the teller’s, or well waiting in line, are distracting.
Brokerage firms’ reception areas are particularly distracting because they are a hub of activity for visitors, staff, marketing displays and televisions announcing minute-by-minute stock market information. A person living with Alzheimer’s will be uncomfortable in these types of surroundings.
Be clear about the purpose… for the appointment and set an agenda in advance so everyone’s expectations are established.
Keep the agenda as simple as possible, focusing on one topic. Even if the financial professional feels a need to discuss other items insist that this is done via telephone if possible, or by booking a subsequent appointment. Too much detail within an appointment will be confusing and negatively impact decision-making.
Limit the number of options… presented when discussing an agenda item during the meeting.
The advisor may want to list many options. Instead, take control of the conversation by presenting two items at once. Otherwise, the individual with dementia will be unable to make a selection.
If the meeting is not progressing well… due to increasing agitation of your friend or family member–or due to an inability of the financial professional to simplify the discussion–end the appointment. Do not feel obliged to continue through to a decision. Ideally, if a decision is necessary, a follow-up appointment can be booked for this purpose.
Each step of the way you will be educating financial professionals on how to provide services to a person living with dementia. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with their supportive response.
About the author
Lee Anne Davies is the writer of the Ageonomics blog, where she explores how aging is associated with financial and health risks. Lee Anne’s education includes a PhD in Aging, Health and Well-being and an MA in Gerontology and Health Studies from the University of Waterloo. She recently co-authored the book “When Life Bites You in the Wallet.”