It took Connie Stone’s father too long to figure out his mother was suffering from the onset of blindness.

“I remember my father said if only he had looked at his mother’s checkbook, he would have known how much trouble she was having,” says Stone, a financial planner in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Her grandmother’s tortured scrawl offered a telltale sign -- even when she couldn’t (or didn’t) want to convey her struggles verbally. “It can be kind of a litmus test to see if somebody is either having difficulty physically or cognitively.”

At theWomen Advisors Forum on October 29 in Chicago, Stone will offer simple tips like this -- along with a wealth of resources -- to help women advisors better serve any of their clients facing similar challenges.

“Female advisors might be better suited to handling these issues,” Stone points out, “because women have different skill sets than men. It would be easier for families and widows to work with a sympathetic female advisor than most male advisors.”

Stone, who serves as one of 27 ambassadors to the CFP Board of Standards, said nearly half the clients in her own practice, Stepping Stone Financial, are elderly. She has also helped care for five different members of her own family with various debilitating conditions, she says.

“I kinda learned things the hard way,” Stone says. “You don’t always anticipate what the future is going to be like. The issues tend to mushroom over time as the senior ages. Before you know it, you are overwhelmed.”

The complexities of caring for cognitively impaired clients are such that it almost becomes a specialty, she adds.

Planners can take one of two routes to deal with the issue, she suggests: Either learn new skill sets to specialize in serving elderly clients, or build up a robust network of professionals -- like certified elder-care attorneys -- to offer as referrals to these clients’ families.

“A lot of advisors just aren’t interested in getting messed up in all of this,” Stone says.

One way or another, advisors need to figure out how best to provide help in these situations.

“I think it’s extremely important because all of us are going to be facing larger numbers of aging clients just because of the demographics,” she adds. “Even if we are not dealing with the senior member of the family, we may be dealing with their children who are grappling with these issues.”

For more details on the 2013 Women Advisors Forums -- including both the Chicago event and another in November in Newport Beach, Calif. -- advisors can join SourceMedia’s Women Advisors Forum. Visitwomenadvisorforum.ning.comto join the community and get more specialized information for female planners.

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