Financial mistakes may indicate dementia in its early stages. Studies reveal that many people start to lose their ability to manage their finances and make smart decisions even before a dementia diagnosis. A person’s bank balances and credit ratings may suffer if they fall behind on bills or make unwise purchases and investments.
Mental health experts say the pandemic may have masked such early lapses. Many older adults have remained isolated from loved ones who might be the first to notice early signs, such as unpaid bills or unopened bank notices.
Even during times that aren’t impacted by a global health crisis, experts say that families may miss the signs that someone is struggling with finances.
The Alzheimer’s Association‘s vice president for care and support, Beth Kallmyer, says financial struggles often reveal early indications that are noticed by family members first. To protect their parents’ independence, many adult children may be reluctant to discuss personal finances.
6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, the most widespread cause of dementia.
Dementia is a term for a cluster of symptoms with declines in mental abilities that are severe enough to interfere with everyday life. There is no way to reverse it, no cure yet. Alzheimer’s is the seventh leading cause of death in the US, killing more than 133.000 Americans in 2020.
Many people have mild symptoms for years before a diagnosis. During this stage, before obvious impairment, they may make substantial errors in managing their finances. Dementia affects executive functions skills. These skills include planning, problem-solving, judgment, memory, and the ability to understand the context.
With a diagnosis, caregivers can implement solutions. Hiring a financial manager to help set up a system is a possible solution. Solutions may involve canceling credit cards and removing shopping apps like eBay or Amazon from their phone.
Others may hire a daily money manager to pay the bills. Money managers may also put them on a monthly cash allowance and handle financial decisions.
A caring, non-afflicted spouse can take a loving approach to double-check finances and keep the household on a straight financial path. A gentle approach can be beneficial by bringing a couple closer together in the conscious time they have left together.
Financial mistakes may indicate dementia. The sooner a family member speaks up and starts to implement solutions then the point of view will change. With the newfound understanding comes the gift of time with their loved one.