According to the World Health Organization, the number of adults living with dementia—a condition that negatively impacts a person’s memory and cognitive function—stands at 50 million. This number is expected to rapidly grow to 82 million by 2030. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 70 percent of all cases. 1 With dementia on the rise, it’s increasingly important to consider dementia-friendly wealth management strategies.
Stages of Dementia
Although dementia impacts everyone differently and each person’s rate of decline is unique, dementia is often marked by several stages. In the earliest stages, common symptoms, which are oftentimes overlooked, include: forgetfulness and confusion. In a later stage of dementia, symptoms are more severe: difficulty recognizing relatives and friends; inability to communicate clearly and engage in daily activities; and behavior changes. In a later stage, especially, most people who have dementia are unable to make sound decisions—financial and otherwise.
Easing the Pain
At CCM, we have walked alongside many families struggling with dementia and its powerful grip on a loved one. It is heart wrenching. Our colleagues are trained in dementia-friendly wealth management practices and continually reminded that while people struggling with dementia may confuse facts and have trouble with complex thinking, they are still very capable of sensing emotions—joy, excitement, sadness, and frustration, among others.
Based on our experience, here are three important steps families should take if a loved one begins showing early signs of dementia:
Schedule a family meeting—early
CCM advisors have a fiduciary obligation to act in a client’s best interest. A family meeting is a forum for healthy dialogue between generations to share information about the client’s financial situation. The goals of the meeting are predetermined by the client and a CCM advisor can facilitate the meeting. Family meetings are about more than numbers. In fact, some clients choose not to share the details of their net worth.
Review plans; stay organized
We are privileged to serve as a trusted partner for our clients. For many, this means retaining copies of important documents: estate plans, legal documents, beneficiary designations, living trusts, power of attorney designations, account records, safe deposit box contents, and more. We encourage regular reviews of these documents and advise all clients to consult with CCM’s advisory team when considering changes.
Make wishes known
Make sure loved ones and CCM’s financial advisory team know about health care directives and wishes for end-of-life care. With this information, we can be strategic about aligning resources to match these desires.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a family meeting, please contact your CCM advisor.
NOTE: The information provided in this article is intended for clients of Carlson Capital Management. We recommend that individuals consult with a professional advisor familiar with their particular situation for advice concerning specific investment, accounting, tax, and legal matters before taking any action.