The financial services could see a business boost by becoming more dementia-friendly, says Alzheimer’s Society.
The charity says in the worse cases firms without sufficient knowledge of or accommodation for the disease are leaving people alienated from the their finances.
However, it projects businesses could not only care better for clients but also boost their strength by catering properly for those with dementia, as the number of dementia sufferers in the UK will be over 1 million people by 2021.
Alzheimer’s Society has launched a Dementia-Friendly Finance and Insurance Guide for firms to better understand the disease and adapt their processes and environments to the needs of those with dementia.
The guide is intended to help employees with the potential scenarios and barriers customers may face, provide better customer service and reduce the number of complaints.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com also founded the Money & Mental Health Policy Institute which supported production of the guide. Lewis says: “Life does not end with a diagnosis of dementia, and by allowing those diagnosed to manage their finances without worry, or helping those helping them, it leaves them supported to live well for as long as possible.
“I’d urge our financial services industry to continue to get even more dementia-friendly too – this is in everyone’s interest. What is needed is reasonable adjustments to products and services, language and communications to dismantle the money-management barriers for those with dementia. Plus we need to ensure that those helping someone else by operating through a power of attorney find it easy to open new accounts, and operate them without any discrimination or difficulty.”
The charity says it hears “too often” how people with dementia and their carers are let down by financial services’ lack of knowledge and understanding: “This can lead to them feeling isolated in their communities, unable to continue with day-to-day tasks such as remembering passwords and using self-service machines. In worst case scenarios people have been cut off from their bank, unable to manage their finances.”
Alzheimer’s Society chief executive, Jeremy Hughes, says: “Dementia can devastate lives and it is vital that people with dementia are enabled and empowered to live the life they want in their community. Interacting with their bank, financial service provider or insurer can be a challenging process for people living with dementia, their families and carers.
“Not only is it important that they are properly supported, it also makes good business sense to be dementia friendly. With support and adjustments from financial service providers, people affected can continue to independently manage their finances and access insurance that meets their needs.”