When Financial Problems Point to Dementia

When Financial Problems Point to Dementia

A groundbreaking study has demonstrated that financial mismanagement can be one of the earliest indicators of dementia. Subtle mistakes in handling money, such as missing payments or falling for scams, may signal cognitive decline long before more obvious symptoms appear. This connection between financial struggles and cognitive health underscores the need for early detection and proactive management.

Financial Mismanagement and Cognitive Decline

Managing finances requires a range of cognitive skills, including memory, attention, and executive function. When these skills begin to deteriorate, it can manifest in various ways:

  • Missed Payments: Forgetting to pay bills on time or missing payments altogether.
  • Increased Susceptibility to Scams: Falling victim to financial scams due to impaired judgment.
  • Difficulty Managing Budgets: Struggling to keep track of expenses and manage a budget effectively.

A pivotal study by economists from the New York Federal Reserve highlights the significance of these early financial missteps. The research, which examined financial behaviors over a 17-year period, focused on how individuals who were eventually diagnosed with cognitive disorders managed their finances in the decade leading up to their diagnosis. The findings revealed that:

  • Credit Scores Decline: Average credit scores begin to weaken well before a dementia diagnosis.
  • Payment Delinquencies Rise: There is an increase in late payments for both credit cards and mortgages.
  • Significant Delinquencies: One year before diagnosis, individuals are 34.3% more likely to pay their credit card bills late and 17% more likely to be late on mortgage payments.

These financial signs can emerge as early as five years before any medical diagnosis, providing a crucial window for early intervention.

The Importance of Early Detection

Early detection of cognitive decline is crucial for several reasons:

  • Timely Intervention: Identifying cognitive issues early allows for timely medical intervention, which can slow the progression of dementia.
  • Better Planning: Early detection provides individuals and their families with the opportunity to make informed decisions about future care and financial planning.
  • Improved Quality of Life: Addressing cognitive decline early can help maintain a higher quality of life for longer.

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Cognitive Health

To protect cognitive health and manage finances effectively, consider the following steps:

  1. Regular Check-Ups: Regular medical check-ups can help detect early signs of cognitive decline. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider.
  2. Monitor Financial Health: Keep a close eye on financial management. Look for signs of difficulty, such as missed payments or confusion over financial matters.
  3. Use Tools Like SuperSenses: Incorporate sensory and cognitive health monitoring tools, such as the SuperSenses 5-Sense Cognitive Performance Kit, into your routine. Regularly assess your sensory health to catch early signs of cognitive decline.
  4. Stay Organized: Use tools and strategies to stay organized, such as setting up automatic bill payments and keeping detailed financial records.
  5. Seek Professional Advice: Consult financial advisors and healthcare professionals for advice and support in managing finances and cognitive health.

    Your Senses Are Cognitive Biomarkers

    The connection between financial management and cognitive health highlights the need for proactive monitoring and early intervention. By staying vigilant and using tools like SuperSenses, individuals can detect early signs of cognitive decline and take steps to maintain their cognitive health and financial independence.




    Agarwal, S., Driscoll, J. C., Gabaix, X., & Laibson, D. (2009). The age of reason: Financial decisions over the life cycle and implications for regulation. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2009(2), 51-117.

    Han, S. D., & Boyle, P. A. (2018). Financial capacity in early dementia: A review. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 33(9), 1218-1234.

    Gross, A. L., & Rebok, G. W. (2011). The memory and financial health link in older adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 59(3), 455-461.

    National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Cognitive decline and financial capacity. Retrieved from NIH Website.

    Alzheimer's Association. (n.d.). Early indicators of dementia: Financial mismanagement. Retrieved from Alzheimer's Association Website.

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