Helping Clients Prepare for Cognitive Decline

By Sarah Mouser, CFP®, CTS™, CES™

As we age, our risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia significantly increase. More than 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men will develop Alzheimer’s1 and 50 percent of Americans over age 85 have some form of dementia.2

Research has told us that one of the first things people have trouble with in the early stages of dementia is managing personal finances. This means that we, as financial advisors, may be in a unique position to notice early signs of cognitive challenges before anyone else, including close family members. By having the courage to start this difficult conversation now, we can help you navigate the path with compassion and understanding.

We’ve started an initiative to provide an extra layer of protection for our clients. We give you the opportunity to declare a trusted person (a family member or close friend, for example) as your ‘Client Advocate’—someone we can communicate with in the event you exhibit signs of cognitive decline. This could mean unusual changes in your mood or personality, not remembering recent portfolio withdrawals or difficulty with familiar tasks such a balancing a checkbook.

Your advocate will not be able to act or make decisions on your behalf (unless they are also named in your power of attorney), but they can be someone who we communicate with in case you demonstrate early symptoms of decline. Your advocate is someone we can check in with to make sure you’re doing ‘okay’ if we happen to notice signs or recognize a problem. For example, a close friend you see often may serve as your advocate, while your out-of-state son or daughter may be listed in your power of attorney to make decisions for your business, legal and financial affairs. People with cognitive decline often worry about losing their independence, and we want to help you maintain it for as long as possible. We encourage you to talk with your spouse, trusted family members or your advocate about your values, and the kind of assistance you want or may need in the future. These discussions will help you plan ahead so you can feel reassured that your finances are being managed according to your wishes.

We will:

  • If we have a concern, we will discuss it with you. Our job is not to diagnose.
  • We will encourage you to get an additional trusted person involved as your advocate; a family member, neighbor, or a close friend.
  • We will recommend you consider including your advocate in your next review meeting.
  • We will help you maintain your independence for as long as possible. We are on your side.

We will not:

  • We will not discuss the details of your financial situation or any other confidential information with your advocate unless you have given us permission to do so, or unless your advocate is also your named power of attorney.

We are happy to assist you with these conversations and to answer questions you have about naming your advocate. Proactive planning now can help to mitigate risks you may face in the future. We’re here to guide you every step of the way.

Already a Cassaday & Company, Inc. client and ready to declare a Client Advocate? Contact your financial advisor, or click here.

PDF available for download or print  



1. Alzheimer’s Association. 2010. “2010: Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.” 11–12.
2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 2009. “Dementia: Hope Through Research” (6/20).




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