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2 Financial Woes That Can Signal the Start of Dementia

These money management issues can hint at dementia years prior to diagnosis, a new study finds. Money management mistakes are part of life. Any of us can forget to pay a bill from time to time. But a history of such behavior might hint at a deeper problem, according to recent research published online in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine. People who eventually are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia may have trouble managing their money several years before doctors make that diagnosis, according to researchers at two universities and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. In particular, such patients are: More likely to miss credit card payments as early as six years before a dementia diagnosis (when compared with study participants who were not diagnosed with dementia) More likely to have subprime credit scores — meaning scores in the “fair” range or lower — as early as 30 months prior to diagnosis As part of the study, researchers looked at de-identified Medicare claims and credit report data for more than 81,000 people on Medicare, the federal health insurance program for seniors and people with certain disabilities and illnesses. The data came from the years 1999 to 2018. All study participants were at least 65 and lived alone. About one-third were diagnosed with dementia during the period. The researchers also looked for a correlation between missed payments and subprime credit scores and other health problems — including arthritis, glaucoma, heart attacks and hip fractures. They found no long-term associations.
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