In Focus: Protecting your client  

What advisers need to know about dementia

  • To understand common issues arising from dementia
  • To understand the support needs of people who suffer from dementia
  • To learn how to tailor the advice process to a client living with dementia
What advisers need to know about dementia
Credit: Susann Mielke at Pixabay

Advisers can feel in the dark when it comes to equipping themselves and their clients with the knowledge, skills and solutions to prepare them financially for dementia.

But living with dementia can be costly as the person becomes progressively dependent on what can be expensive personal and social care, so getting financial advice can be beneficial for many.

Johnny Timpson, who has worked in insurance for more than 30 years and is a member of the Prime Minister’s Champion Group for Dementia Communities, points out “the key support need of people with dementia comes from help with basic daily needs such as washing, dressing and eating, rather than medical treatment available under the NHS”.

The Alzheimer’s Society put the cost of living with dementia at £100,000, and the total cost of care for people with dementia in the UK at £34.7bn. 

But this is set to rise sharply over the next two decades, to £94.1bn in 2040, made up of healthcare costs to the NHS, social care costs, and costs of unpaid care provided by family members.

The largest proportion of this cost, some 45 per cent, is related to social care, according to the charity.

Advising clients with dementia requires a number of skills, including recognising a client's potential vulnerability and loss of contractual capacity, as well as soft skills, says Timpson.

Guiding principles

To begin with, there are certain guiding principles that can help advisers deal with this tricky and very sensitive subject.

At the very heart of the complexity around dementia are the vulnerable clients themselves. Therefore, an individual and tailored approach is vital.

Andrew Page, an Old Mill IFA accredited by the Society of Later Life Advisers (Solla), puts it like this: “When you’ve met one person with dementia, you’ve met one person with dementia – everyone is different and we have to be able to adapt to individual circumstances.

"As with conversations with any client, it is perhaps even more important to approach those in vulnerable circumstances and their families with empathy and patience.”

He recommends using appropriate language, for instance keeping things clear and straightforward. "It is key to understand the pace of conversation that may be needed – take as much time as necessary.


Diagrams and drawings can help to get complex ideas across more easily

"Also check when the best time of day for a conversation is. This may depend on timings of meals and medications. Be prepared to have more than one meeting to explain things if necessary as sometimes breaking things into easily digested chunks is best.”

Page sometimes uses visual aids such as diagrams or drawings. This “can be an easier way of getting ideas across. In essence, adapt to each situation and be prepared to be very flexible”.

Key aspects to bear in mind are having support from a friend or family member for the client if that is what they desire or need.