Central Otago Mirror - - CLASSIFIEDS -

‘‘Age­ing is not for wimps,’’ I was told once by a se­nior life in­surance ex­ec­u­tive whose mother had de­men­tia.

He was speak­ing a few days after po­lice had res­cued her from a road­side after she’d got lost.

Around 60,000 peo­ple have de­men­tia, a num­ber ex­pected to climb to around 150,000 by 2050 as the pop­u­la­tion ages.

An Alzheimer’s di­ag­no­sis will gen­er­ally come after peo­ple be­gin to strug­gle with some as­pects of their lives, in­clud­ing manag­ing their bank­ing.

I hadn’t thought about Alzheimer’s since the ‘‘age­ing is not for wimps’’ con­ver­sa­tion, per­haps eight or so years ago.

Then a week ago, I met Lor­raine Hunter from Westpac, who made a deathbed prom­ise to her fa­ther to do some­thing to help peo­ple liv­ing with de­men­tia.

The re­sult was Westpac’s de­men­tia bank­ing pro­gramme to help peo­ple di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s dis­ease put in place bank­ing dis­ci­plines and pro­cesses to pro­tect their Ev­ery adult needs a will

Ev­ery adult should have EPAs in place

Many of us will be­come a trusted helper to an older rel­a­tive

money, while re­tain­ing their in­de­pen­dence for as long as pos­si­ble.

When a di­ag­no­sis of Alzheimer’s dis­ease is made, Westpac cus­tomers can ask for a ‘‘no­ti­fi­ca­tion’’ to be put on their ac­counts to en­sure an ex­tra level of care from bank staff.

Westpac staff are now trained on how to serve peo­ple with Alzheimer’s, in­clud­ing what to do if they think a per­son has be­come con­fused.

Peo­ple di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s can also ask Westpac to recog­nise an ‘‘al­ter­na­tive con­tact per­son’’ who can be called when as­sis­tance is ac­quired. It’s usu­ally a close fam­ily mem­ber.

Westpac also helps peo­ple de­men­tia-proof their bank­ing, for ex­am­ple, mak­ing sure ac­counts like the power are paid by di­rect debit.

It’s im­por­tant to make sure in­surance poli­cies that are in place do not lapse.

Clos­ing re­dun­dant ac­counts to sim­plify bank­ing can play a part. Some also put a low limit on their day-to-day ac­count to limit the amount of funds that can ac­cessed.

Hav­ing a proper fil­ing sys­tem at home with all im­por­tant doc­u­ments in one place is also im­por­tant.

So is pre­par­ing for the day when some trusted other will take the lead in de­ci­sion­mak­ing.

It is when a per­son is still able to make de­ci­sions in­de­pen­dently that a will and en­dur­ing pow­ers of at­tor­ney (EPA) should be put in place.

An EPA al­lows the per­son named in it to act for you, do­ing things like pay­ing your bills and col­lect­ing in­come on your be­half.

Learn­ing about de­men­tia bank­ing re­minded me how many peo­ple I know who do not have wills, EPAs and trusts in place.

What also struck me was the com­mit­ment that fam­ily mem­bers have to make in help­ing loved ones with de­men­tia re­main in­de­pen­dent for as long as pos­si­ble.

For while 60,000 peo­ple may be liv­ing with de­men­tia, there’s a greater num­ber help­ing them man­age the or­di­nary things in life like bank­ing.

Hunter works in Westpac’s pri­vate bank, help­ing wealthy peo­ple with their bank­ing.

But her prom­ise to her fa­ther means she’s helped make it eas­ier for fam­i­lies to play a sim­i­lar roles for loved ones suf­fer­ing from Alzheimer’s.

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