HSBC unveils measures to help customers affected by dementia

HSBC has outlined plans to become a more "dementia-friendly" bank with a range of initiatives.

A guide to help customers living with the condition and those who support them is being piloted in 10 HSBC branches, giving tips on keeping track of spending and protecting against fraud.

HSBC said it aims to roll the guide out nationwide.

Staff are also undergoing information sessions to understand more about dementia.

Common symptoms of dementia, such as memory loss and problems communicating, can make managing finances more challenging.

The bank, which has around 17 million customers in the UK, has been working with Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer Scotland and has committed to raising £3 million during a three-year partnership.

HSBC said it is also looking at ways to improve products and services, including improving the website to ensure it is accessible for people living with dementia.

Francesca McDonagh, head of wealth and retail banking at HSBC UK said its launch of voice recognition technology last year, whereby customers can simply use their voice as their password, rather than having to remember a Pin, is one example of the ways the bank is making services simpler to use.

She said: "Through this partnership, training of our staff, the launch of the guide and the Dementia Friends information sessions, we hope to provide even more support to help people living with dementia feel assured that they are banking within a trusted environment."

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer's Society, said: "Visiting a bank branch can be an overwhelming task for a person with dementia.

"What many take for granted as easy, everyday banking tasks like, remembering a Pin or other personal information, can suddenly become an unexpected challenge.

"Through this partnership with HSBC, we hope to create a space where those affected by dementia feel supported and treated as equal members of society."

Here are some of the tips included in HSBC's guide:

- To keep on top of your spending, keep a written record of what is spent and retain receipts for all transactions. Make sure to regularly check statements too.

- Regular payments such as standing orders and direct debits can help ensure payments are made on time and made for the correct amount.

- Ensure the right access is set up for getting assistance from others with finances.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he hoped more businesses would introduce similar initiatives to help people with dementia.

He said: "Living with dementia can sometimes make day to day tasks overwhelming, and something as simple as visiting a bank can leave vulnerable people open to fraud.

"I'm delighted to see HSBC taking the initiative to support its customers, helping ensure those with dementia can continue to live independently. I hope to see more businesses following this lead and becoming dementia-friendly."

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How we spend our pensions

Figures from Saga show that the over 50s now account for the majority of money spent by Brits on travel and tourism. They have the time to spare, the money, and they are healthy enough to take on the world.

A poll from Abta found that in the wake of pension freedoms, 35% of people were considering cashing in at least part of their pension to travel. A separate study by Senior Railcard found that pensioners take an average of three holidays a year, plus two weekends away, and 17 day trips.

Research from Senior Railcard found that retirees eat out an average of three times a month. However, one in ten do so more than twice a week, and one in three people said that one of the first things they did when they retired was to go out for lunch with their friends.

Of course, just because retirees want to enjoy themselves, it doesn't mean they are happy to throw money away. The vast majority are keen to eat at lunchtimes, when a fixed lunch menu tends to be cheaper, and canny retirees are skilled at tracking down pensioner special offers too.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that on average nearly a fifth of the money spent by people aged 65-74 is on leisure. This includes everything from the cinema and theatre to golfing and gardening. They spent more on this than on food, energy bills and transport.

A report by Canada Life found that retirees are spending £4,279 a year on having fun - that’s more than £1,000 more than they spend on boring essentials, and is a 74% increase over the past ten years. It went on to predict that this trend was set to continue, and that pension freedoms would encourage people to spoil themselves a bit more in retirement

Pensioner property wealth is now over £850 billion, and all these family homes don’t look after themselves. The Senior Railcard survey put home renovations in the top 20 activities people got stuck into on retirement, and figures from ABTA found that almost a third of people who were considering raiding their pension pots under the new pension freedoms planned to spend the cash on their home. This seems like an eminently sensible investment - looking after what is undoubtedly their most valuable asset.

Unsurprisingly, while some pensioners are very well off indeed, others are struggling with debt. Figures from Key Retirement found that the average retiree has £34,000 of debt.

Most of this is mortgage borrowing - in many cases driven up by the number of people who unwittingly signed up to an interest-only mortgage. However, credit cards, overdrafts, and loans are also common. It’s why so many pensioners have used pension freedoms to access enough cash to pay their debts.

The day to day basics are swallowing up their fair share of pensioner cash too. On average, people aged 65-74 spend a third of their weekly income on essentials like food and bills - which is hardly living the high life.
The bank of gran and grandad has become an increasingly vital source of cash for families. According to Key Retirement, of those who release equity from their property, 21% of them use the cash to treat their children and grandchildren. This includes an average of £33,350 to help children get onto the property ladder, £6,000 to buy them a new car, £11,000 on family weddings, and £24,780 giving grandchildren a helping hand.

While retirees are quite rightly spending what they need to enjoy retirement, they are hardly all throwing caution to the wind, buying flash cars and spending the kids' inheritance.

Most expect to have something left over to pass onto their family after their death. Some 69% expect to leave property in their wills, and 75% expect to leave cash - according to Unbiased.co.uk - because while baby boomers know how to have fun - they also know how to save for the future.

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