When Steve Starnes’ grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2004, his first year as a financial advisor, he immediately recognized the value of his services to families affected by dementia.
In fact, his grandmother was one of his first clients.
“My grandmother, as she struggled to understand the world around her, didn't have to worry about her finances,” Starnes said. “And my mom, as she was trying to balance her own life with caring for my grandmother, my grandmother's finances weren't a source of stress and frustration. That's very valuable.”
Starnes, a certified financial planner with Savant Capital in McLean, Va., specializes in working with clients and families affected by Alzheimer’s and other related dementias.
Based on his own experience, Starnes says the three most important things advisors should do when helping clients with dementia are:
1. Get someone other than your client involved.
2. Recognize that most forms of dementia are progressive.
3. Suggest your client see a doctor if you have a concern.
Starnes, who graduated from the University of Michigan and received his MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, has helped more than 20 clients living with dementia.
Perhaps equally important, he’s helped family members who have been touched by the disease.
“Anyone I’ve worked with usually has some connection or knows somebody who’s been affected by it,” Starnes said. “So working directly with someone with dementia is one thing, but also being able to offer some advice to family members who are dealing with it as well.”
In 2010, Starnes wrote an article titled “Is Your Firm Prepared for Alzheimer’s?” which appeared in the Journal of Financial Planning.
Two years later, he was named Financial Planner of the Year by the Financial Planning Association of the National Capital Area. Also in 2012, Washingtonian
magazine recognized Starnes as a Top Financial Advisor.
Starnes, who serves on the board of Insight Memory Care Center, a charity providing care resources and daycare for people with dementia in Fairfax, Va., is invited to present at various conferences around the country a few times each year.
“That’s really rewarding,” he said about presenting. “Most financial advisors I've talked to have people they've already struggled to help. And by kind of talking through some of those steps, I think that gives financial advisors more confidence that this is something that they can provide a lot of value and do.” Watch a Video of Steve Starnes discussing what advisors should do when helping clients with dementia.
DISCLOSURE –Don Mitchell is a writer for Transamerica’s New Age of Advice.
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