Brian’s story of cognitive decline

These profiles have been created after research with real customers in vulnerable situations. All names have been changed.

We're living longer and working longer, but that brings its own challenges when it comes to our wellbeing. What happens when someone is unable to take active control of their financial health?
Brian is 89, retired and widowed. His physical health is excellent, but his cognition is deteriorating. This is proving detrimental to his ability to look after his own finances. His family suspect he is suffering from dementia and is trying to help, but they are unable to fully trace all his assets. Brian refuses to cede control or accept any assistance, except from his carer. The family are concerned he's being taken advantage of, but they're unable to intervene.

How can you design inclusively for Brian?

Ask yourself:

Are your colleagues empowered to spot potential vulnerability? 

The emotions surrounding dementia are complex and its impact is felt in many ways. People suffering from dementia often lose confidence in their abilities. Brian may be trying to keep some semblance of control and sense of self by refusing to accept help from those who care for him.

What does your experience look like to customers who are unable to use digital services?

Brian's challenges are magnified by the shift of many services from physical to digital. He struggles to remember passwords, can't easily differentiate between genuine and phishing emails, and finds it difficult to use online banking. Being heavily reliant on others puts Brian at high risk of exploitation. As branches close and call centres are off-shored or their capacity reduced, Brain is further isolated.

Are you expecting customers to proactively seek information?

Due to difficulty managing his accounts and lack of capability using digital services, it's highly likely that Brian will be on the highest tariffs for all his utilities and mobile phone. He may struggle to access information that would help him make a choice or change tariffs. As his cognition deteriorates, he may find it difficult to understand the information provided or how a change will impact his financial position.

Are you enabling delegates to act on your customers’ behalf?

As his abilities continue to deteriorate, Brian will become ever more vulnerable to financial, emotional and psychological crises. Greater responsibility for his wellbeing will inevitably fall to others. Existing services and products are rarely designed to safeguard the individual while managing the progressive transference of control to others.

Who are your vulnerable customers?

Meet Amy