Banking and financial services for a dementia-friendly america

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According to a Fidelity Investment survey of financial advisors, 84 percent of respondents said they had clients with dementia and 96 percent of respondents said they do not feel prepared for this population. In a dementia friendly community, banks and financial services are aware of dementia and responsive to the individual needs of persons living with dementia and their caregivers. Financial services professionals can use dementia friendly practices to help maintain clients’ independence while protecting them from problems such as unpaid expenses, avoidable guardianship, and financial abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

The following provides potential action steps to help banks and financial institutions to best serve the needs of people living with dementia and their trusted caregivers and care partners.

Visit our site for further information on NCRC’s Age-Friendly Banking initiative.

Addressing Training and Education

Reach out to your local branch managers of banks and other financial institutions in your community and inquire about their knowledge, practices and procedures to best support customers with dementia and their trusted caregivers. Build a partnership with banks and financial institutions as you mutually seek to enhance the methods and practices around recognizing signs of dementia, using friendly dementia communication skills, addressing signs of financial exploitation or abuse, and creating products, services and providing protections for customers with dementia. Understand the training and continuing education bank and financial institution personnel receive and how your affiliate’s focus on dementia can complement or enhance their work. Use the resources at the end of this document to help you in your work with financial institutions in your community.

Dedicated and Trained Staffing

Encourage banks and financial institutions to specify select staff to act as bank ambassadors, or to provide a dementia specialist to customers with dementia and their trusted caregivers. Creating conditions that help customers feel comfortable with their banking and financial management allows people with dementia the ability to remain independent as long as possible. Having a familiar point of contact at the bank or financial institution provides familiarity and comfort. A bank professional who understands the customer’s circumstances and unique challenges living with dementia can support the customer as well as provide expertise for the entire staff about creating a Dementia Friendly Banking atmosphere.

View-Only Banking

Pioneered by the Bank of American Fork of Utah, “View-only” banking allows caregivers and other trusted care partners the ability to view a customer’s account in order to act as an extra set of eyes watching out for signs of financial exploitation. However, the “helper” cannot perform any transactions on behalf of the account holder. This can protect customers with dementia from fraud, and it can also protect caregivers and care partners from unwarranted suspicion. If your local banks do not offer view only account features, consider meeting with staff and discussing the potential for creating these accounts as a distinct benefit to customers with dementia.

Reporting of Elder Financial Abuse

Know your state’s laws regarding elder financial abuse and if necessary, work with stakeholders to enhance and strengthen the law to better serve customers and people living with dementia. All states have some law regarding the reporting of elder financial abuse. States differ in a few key ways, namely around whether the reporting is mandatory or voluntary, the definitions of elder financial exploitation and who is protected, the definition of elder abuse and other related terms, and the people or entities who are mandated to report the exploitation or abuse. Work with a coalition or task force of stakeholders to make positive changes, if necessary, to your state’s reporting laws and procedures.

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