Guest speaker Sally Widdowson, a key member of Westpac’s Dementia Friendly Working Group, has seen people living with dementia taken advantage of by people looking after them, and its damaging effects. She has come across many cases of financial abuse.

“It can occur anywhere, at any time, and to any one and is committed by a range of people.”

She tells of a woman living with dementia who had money taken by someone looking after her after entrusting them with her card and pin number.

“This poor woman was so shaken from the ordeal that her health rapidly declined and she never fully recovered from the event. It was a very traumatic time for her and the family,” says Widdowson.

“We want to educate the elderly, their families and carers about other options available, such as arranging Power of Attorney through a lawyer or having co-signee processes in place that create greater transparency and keep customers’ money safe.”

Widdowson will also touch on Internet scams, as well as ways the bank is helping people with dementia when they come through their branches.

“When I was a bank manager, I saw a lot of elderly people come in and get confused and frustrated by banking processes they had previously been fine with. Looking back now, I consider dementia may have been a factor in that. So I feel passionate about the work we are doing to help educate Westpac employees to do all they can to create a more accommodating environment for people living with dementia,” she said.

Westpac’s dementia-friendly projects include annual education for employees about the signs of dementia and best ways of communicating with someone living with the condition, creating a notification system so that people can advise the bank of their special needs, and ensuring the physical environment is dementia-friendly.

Dementia Auckland’s annual Symposium is attended by people who want to provide better support to those living with the condition.

In addition to the financial focus, other topics at this year’s Symposium will cover how to enact an Enduring Power of Attorney; tools for overcoming communication difficulties; and staying independent.

The Dementia Auckland Symposium, sponsored by Westpac, is being held on Sunday, August 27, from 1 – 5pm, at Waipuna Hotel & Conference Centre. Entry via koha (donation) and people must register by emailing Stephanie@dementiaauckland.org.nz.

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