Creating a Dementia Friendly Bank - Looking Through a New Lens

As bankers and financial advisors we must develop systems, policies and facilities that meet the every changing needs of people living with dementia, allowing independence to access and manage their money without fear of financial abuse.  Creating a dementia friendly bank will require training, education - and looking at their world through a different lens.

A 2012 UK study showed that 75% of those living with dementia have difficulty with banking.  This may be due to lack of knowledge of dementia by front line staff and their ability to recognize, respond and assist customers living with dementia.

Banks should asses their customer service areas to ensure adequate lighting, seating, safety and quiet areas where a person living with dementia, their caregivers and bank personnel can discuss banking matters.

Fidelity Investment Survey of Advisors recently disclosed these alarming statistics:

  • 84% of respondents said they had clients with dementia
  • 96% said they don't feel prepared to deal with them
  • 50% don't think they can even raise the concern with a customer

Some of the warning signs that a client may be living with dementia include:

  • Confusion with payments and documents
  • Repeating the same question over and over
  • Checks not filled out properly
  • Forgetting to update checkbook transactions
  • Decline in ability to do basic math
  • Poor judgement in investment strategy
  • Interest in "get rich quick" schemes
  • Misuse of money by a third party

How can we improve communications?

  • Slow down and allow the customer to process what you said and to respond
  • Use short, simple sentences
  • Ask one question at a time
  • Avoid arguing
  • Train staff to detect warn signs
  • Have a quiet place to talk without distractions or background noise

Process and procedures to put in place may include:

  • Voice recognition or eye scan technology instead of password requirement
  • Algorithms to help detect changes in spending patterns
  • Black online and/or phone access
  • Use credit or gift card with restricted limit instead of a debit card
  • Reward staff who uncover scams
  • Designate POA (Power of Attorney) up front in case customer can't make decisions
  • Ways to set up a POA if there is concern about control or undue influence by others: 1) In early stages, make access "view only"  2) Bank can delay certain suspicious payments until contact with POA 3) Limit POA to handle only certain transactions

Contributing author Kathy Wetters is a Master Trainer for AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, whose Dementia Live™️ experience is helping organizations elevate their status as age friendly - dementia friendly businesses.