Declining money management skills could be Alzheimer’s precursor

By Laura Mize • Published: December 3rd, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Is grandpa having trouble keeping track of his savings account? If he also has mild cognitive impairment, the trouble managing money could mean the onset of Alzheimer’s disease is approaching.

According to the Mayo Clinic, mild cognitive impairment… or MCI… is a disorder that negatively affects a person’s memory and ability to think and perform certain tasks. It causes a more severe decline in functionality than normal aging, but does not always lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers writing in the journal Neurology tested one-hundred-and-sixty-three older adults on their financial management skills, then repeated the test with the same people after a year. About half of the study participants had MCI at the time of the first test, while the other half did not.

The healthy participants scored highest on all the tests, indicating that all the people with mild cognitive impairment were struggling with a decline in financial management skills.

After the second test, twenty-five of the impaired people had developed Alzheimer’s disease. They were the only group with a significant decline between their two scores. Handling bank statements and managing a checkbook… which can be difficult enough in these days of electronic deposits and fund transfers… seemed to give the Alzheimer’s patients the most difficulty.

AARP recommendations advise Alzheimer’s patients to keep track of financial issues in a journal. The researchers suggest doctors should discuss the possible development of decreased financial skills with MCI patients and their families and say that relatives should consider overseeing or monitoring their loved ones’ finances.

So don’t be afraid to offer to help grandpa count his pennies… He may appreciate the help