According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around six million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. This disease is particularly tricky because the symptoms tend to get overlooked until they become apparent.
Researchers have begun studying which behavioral patterns could predict and point to dementia diagnosis. They discovered one particular behavior that can emerge up to six years before dementia is diagnosed.
Keep reading to learn more about this behavior.
Missed Financial Payments
JAMA Internal Medicine published a study that connects dementia with missed financial payments. Researchers analyzed more than 80,000 Medicare beneficiaries, their credit reports, and medical records. The results showed that those who developed Alzheimer’s disease later on, were likely to miss financial payments up to six years before their diagnosis.
Also, the numbers show that people that went on to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s were likely to develop subprime credit scores about 2.5 years before the diagnosis.
Lauren Nicholas, the leader of this study, explained how they got the inspiration for conducting it. Early symptoms of dementia can be hard to notice and are often dismissed as moments of confusion or disorientation. They are noticeable only when they get stronger and more frequent, and typically, family members identify the symptoms before the patients. Catastrophic financial events are often what lead families to believe their relative has dementia.
With the study, the authors hope to contribute to identifying those at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
How Can Missed Financial Payments Be Related to Alzheimer’s?
As Alzheimer’s gets worse, patients experience memory loss, which can explain missed financial payments. Additionally, Alzheimer’s can change a person’s perception of risks. This means that patients don’t realize the gravity of their actions and the potential consequences.
Although financial troubles were related to Alzheimer’s before the pandemic, it’s believed that isolation enhanced the problem and affected risk perception. Plus, family members visit each other less frequently, which makes it harder to identify the symptoms.
A study shows that patients with Alzheimer’s were much more likely to lose large amounts of money leading up to diagnosis.
Deterioration of financial abilities can be identified well before other dementia symptoms appear. Although Alzheimer’s is currently incurable, it’s possible to slow down or delay the symptoms. That’s why it’s essential to pay attention to the early signs, especially if you’re at risk.
Other Early Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s are typically the hardest to identify. Here’s what you should pay attention to:
- Forgetting names, important dates, or events
- Misplacing items
- Having trouble with naming everyday objects
- Being unable to remember the right word
- Asking questions repetitively
- Being unable to solve simple problems, create schedules or long-term plans
- Displaying poor judgment
- Becoming aggressive
- Having difficulty falling asleep
- Showing increased apathy
Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s
Scientists still don’t fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s. But, they agree numerous risk factors can contribute to developing Alzheimer’s. Some factors can be changed; others can’t.
Risk Factors That Can’t Be Changed
These risk factors exist, and unfortunately, there’s no way we can mitigate them:
- Age – This is the most significant risk factor because Alzheimer’s mainly affects people who are 65 or older. After 65, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every five years.
- Gender – Research shows Alzheimer’s is much more common in women over 65 than men. This could be related to the fact that women live longer or the estrogen loss after menopause.
- Genetics – The relation between genetics and Alzheimer’s is still being researched. Some studies show people are more likely to develop it if a close family member has it.
Risk Factors That Can Be Changed
These factors can contribute to developing Alzheimer’s, and we can always change them:
- Lifestyle – Eating healthy, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Health problems – Numerous health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. To reduce it, you need to keep them under control.
Identify the Early Symptoms for the Best Outcome
If you’ve noticed you or your close ones struggle with making the right financial decisions or missing important payments, this could be a sign of Alzheimer’s. Discovering Alzheimer’s at an early stage can significantly slow down the symptoms, so monitoring changes in behavior is essential.