Detecting Financial Incapacity in Seniors

This is a blurred image taken through window of old man with gray hair on trainRecently, the SEC, NASAA and FINRA published a report to help advise financial professionals in detecting signs of diminished capacity among older investors. Some red flags:

• The senior seems unable to process even the simplest concepts.
• The senior appears to have memory loss.
• The senior appears to have difficulty speaking and/or communicating.
• The senior appears to be unable to appreciate the consequences of his or her decisions.
• The senior makes decisions that are inconsistent with his or her current long-term goals or ongoing commitments.
• The senior’s behavior is erratic.
• The senior refuses to follow appropriate financial advice.
• The senior appears to be confused about “missing funds,” even though reviews show no signs of unauthorized money movements.
• The senior is unaware of or does not comprehend recent financial or legal transactions.
• The senior appears to be disoriented in his or her surroundings or social settings.
• The senior appears uncharacteristically unkempt or lacking in personal hygiene.
• The senior appears uneasy around family or friends who are helping with finances.

Reacting appropriately to these signs requires compassion and a complete understanding of the financial, social and physical environment surrounding the senior.

Seniors with no responsible family support should be referred to the proper government agency, such as the Adult Protective Service or the Office of Public Guardian.

If seniors do have responsible family support, financial professionals need to discuss their observations with them and recommend steps to protect the financial well-being of the senior — always applying both compassion and wisdom.

A senior will often turn to a trusted person to help preserve their financial independence and personal dignity. In many cases, involving the professional services of a daily money manager is the wisest and most prudent action to take.

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