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Diminished Capacity

Diminished Capacity: Recognizing the Signs and Avoiding Financial Risk

Diminished mental capacity affects many people in middle and later life. An estimated one in nine people ages 65 and older has Alzheimer’s, while nearly half of Americans older than age 85 suffer from some form of dementia. The financial risks may be significant, including loss of assets through relinquishing financial control or falling victim to fraudulent financial practices and scams. This 90-minute workshop may be presented as a group meeting or in a one-to-one counseling session. It is designed to provide participants with an awareness of the signs of diminished capacity and identify proactive steps that may be implemented to avoid potential negative financial consequences.

Workshop Materials

You must agree to the terms of the Content License Agreement below to access the materials. Once the materials are downloaded, they may be used as-is or customized to best meet your needs.

Each kit provides workshop facilitators with the materials needed to run a workshop straight out of the box, or the choice to adapt any of the detailed presentations, scripts or learner action plans to suit their unique audience’s needs. Here is what you can find in each workshop.

A Presentation

Display these PowerPoint slides during your presentation to keep the workshop engaging and on track.

A Script

Consult the script for tips on how to prepare for your workshop, what your primary talking points will be, and follow-up resources.

Activities and Info Sheets

Guide your workshop participants through the hands-on activities and informational sheets to bring the financial skills to life.

Related Resources

Find additional suggested resources that can help round out your educational offerings.


The FAQ section for each workshop can help answer your questions about working with your intended audience.


Who will be participating in this workshop?

Participants of this workshop are probably experiencing some distress at having a client, family member, or friend begin to show signs of diminished mental capacity. Or, perhaps individuals are either becoming aware of some small changes in their own behaviors or they are worried they may be at risk for developing diminished capacity at some time in the future. Participants share the common concern of recognizing the signs of diminished capacity and how to manage the very real ramifications it can have on financial well-being.

How do I help the participants be comfortable with learning from me and sharing with me?

The best way to make participants feel comfortable during what can be a stressful time is to let them know that the environment is one of support and confidentiality. By sharing personal experiences and asking participants to do the same, relationships of trust are built and the participants will become more invested in the program. Also, presenting the information without lecturing and with more focus on discussion and activities will allow the participants to be more comfortable and open during the session.

How widespread is the problem of diminished capacity in America?

Diminished mental capacity is a growing concern for our aging population. With ongoing growth of the 65-and-older age bracket, dementia is becoming more prevalent, and it is estimated that one in eight people in this group has Alzheimer’s disease. For those over age 85, an estimated 50 percent have some form of diminished capacity, whether it is caused by Alzheimer’s disease or another condition, such as Parkinson’s disease or vascular dementia.

In addition, the mere fact of getting older has been shown to increase mild cognitive impairment in a sizable portion of the population. An estimated 22 percent of those more than 71 years old have some amount of decreased mental capacity.

I’m not a financial expert. What if I can’t answer some of their questions, or what if they ask a very specific question about financial planning?

Be honest and tell your class they should consult with a trusted financial professional. Don’t guess or dismiss any question. You might use this as an opportunity to reinforce how important it is for them to ask questions any time they don’t understand something. In addition, explain that finances are unique to each person and there are many factors to consider.

How can I be most effective as a workshop facilitator?

Be respectful to your participants and acknowledge the big step they took to attend this workshop. Encourage and support their interest in gaining helping those with diminished capacity gain financial stability.

What if one person dominates the discussion?

Before conducting the workshop, practice a few lines you could use spontaneously to limit one person from dominating the discussion. For example, if one person is going on too long about his or her situation, you could say, “I appreciate your input and participation, but I am concerned about the time and we have some other topics to cover.” If one person is asking the majority of the questions, look for someone who has not asked a question and direct a query to him or her specifically.

Do I have to be particularly careful about my appearance before the presentation? That is, will my clothes and the overall way I look be a problem when it comes to being respectful to this audience?

It is a good idea to dress professionally yet modestly. Simply remember that you are a financial expert or community leader, and the job you volunteered for is to help your audience learn about the financial aspects of adoption.

Is there anything in particular I should emphasize in the workshop? What if a participant asks a question that I cannot answer?

As mentioned previously, you may have people in your workshop from a range of backgrounds. The information in this workshop is designed to cover the basics of financial planning issues as they pertain to diminished capacity. For additional financial education information, you can refer them to the National Endowment for Financial Education website ( and NEFE’s Smart About Money website ( For additional information specific to diminished capacity, you can refer them to the resources listed in the Resources section of the Talking Script and Resources handout.

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