Lawrence Weiss of NEXT Financial in San Francisco remembers the day he got a call from the police. Not about anything he did, but about a longtime client.

An 80-year-old woman living alone, who had been a client of his for more than a decade, was being robbed by financial fraudsters because she was suffering from dementia. California Senior Protective Services had been notified, which led to them and the police contacting the financial advisor.

Weiss, with the help of the client’s older sister and niece, set up protections so she would no longer be writing cashier’s checks to anyone who asked. One of the first things he did was set up online banking for the client, so the sister and niece could view her accounts and make sure the bills were being paid and no extraneous checks were being written.

“Being a financial advisor today with elderly clients, you have a different level of responsibility than you do with younger clients,” says Weiss. “Advisors are going to face this more and more as the population ages.

“We have to wear a lot of different hats today,” he says. “Is this a money maker for us? No. But as an advisor you have to decide how you can help, and a good financial planner can add a lot of value in these situations.”

Studies have shown that nearly 14 percent of the population of the United States over age 70 suffers from some degree of dementia. Worldwide, 47 million people suffer from dementia and that number will increase to 75 million by 2030, according to the World Health Organization.

Financial advisors will be put in a position to help some of these people.

“It is absolutely critical to think about these issues ahead of time, before the client shows signs of dementia,” says Sarah Mouser, a director of financial planning with Cassaday & Company Inc. in Northern Virginia. “The client should designate an advocate—a friend or family member—to act on their behalf.”

“Advisors are put in a special position to help manage a client’s affairs in the early stages of dementia,” adds her colleague Alina Lee, also a director of financial planning for Cassaday.

Leslie Thompson, a managing principal at Spectrum Management Group in Indianapolis, had a similar experience to Weiss. A longtime client began showing signs of dementia and she had to decide how to handle the situation.

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