Early dementia often has surprising warning sign, report says: 'Financial implications'

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Dementia takes a costly toll on the families it affects – emotionally, physically and even financially.

According to a new report from the New York Federal Reserve, an impact on finances is in many cases one of the first signs of the disease.

Analyzing 17 years of data from credit bureaus and Medicare databases, researchers found that in the five years leading up to a disorder diagnosis, there is often a drop in credit scores and an increase in late payments. Alzheimer's disease and related disorders (ADRD).

ALZHEIMER'S ON MATERNAL SIDE OF THE FAMILY MAY INCREASE DISEASE RISK, RESEARCH FINDS

People in the early stages of dementia may also accumulate more debt, open new credit accounts, and use multiple types of credit.

“Given the typical course of the disease, these findings suggest that the disease may have financial consequences in its earliest stages, when symptoms are typically mild and not widely apparent,” the researchers wrote.

According to a new report, a negative impact on finances is, in many cases, one of the first signs of the disease. (iStock)

“The financial impact of ADRD before diagnosis increases over time.”

This is particularly worrying given that older adults People with dementia are likely to face significant costs for care and other related expenses, the report said.

AFTER BIDDEN'S 'TERRIBLE' DEBATE, HEALTH EXPERTS WARN OF DENIAL DANGERS AND CALL FOR INVESTIGATION OF SYMPTOMS

Monica Moreno, senior director of care and support for the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago, said the new report confirms what experts already knew: that challenges in manage money or personal finances are common early warning signs of dementia.

“While there are several signs and symptoms of dementia, difficulties with problem-solving or planning can lead someone to mismanage their finances,” Moreno, who was not involved in the New York Fed report, told Fox News Digital via email.

“Other symptoms associated with dementia, such as decreased or poor judgment and difficulty performing familiar tasks, can also negatively impact money management or personal finances.”

“The person may have piles of unopened bills or may be overspending.”

Early in the disease, people may have difficulty with more complex tasks, such as managing investments or making decisions about major purchases, Moreno noted.

“Since dementia is often a progressive condition, these challenges will increase over time,” she said. “It is important for family members to recognize these potential signals early and intervene as quickly as possible.”

Common warning signs

Some common signs to look out for include the inability to balance a checking account, or consistently late payments on credit cards or other monthly bills, Moreno said.

“It could also be that the person in question has stacks of unopened bills or is spending excessive amounts of money,” police said.

Stack of bills

According to one expert, there are some common signs to look out for: not being able to keep track of your checking account balance or consistently paying credit cards or other monthly bills late. (iStock)

People with dementia are also more susceptible to financial abuse, identity theft, fraud or get-rich-quick schemes.

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“If these issues or potential threats are not addressed, people with dementia could be at significant financial risk,” Moreno warned.

5 Ways Families Can Help

“If you think a family member is showing signs of dementia, it’s important to share your concerns and talk to a healthcare professional,” Moreno said. “Early diagnosis of dementia provides the best opportunity to put financial safeguards in place.”

For those whose loved ones are struggling to manage their finances, the Alzheimer's Association shared the following tips and strategies with Fox News Digital.

1. Discuss with the person how a trusted family member or a friend can help you pay bills or set up direct debit to avoid late payments.

ALZHEIMER'S CAREGIVER'S HANDBOOK: HERE ARE EXPERT TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FOR THOSE WHO CARE FOR DEMENTIA PATIENTS

2. Create a separate account where you can put a small, agreed amount. The recipient can use this amount for recreational activities, dinners with friends or other personal purchases.

3. Sign up to receive automatic notifications for recordings of bank accounts or large credit card charges. If you set a charge or spending limit and if the person spends more, the bank or credit card company will let you know.

Seniors open wallet

People with dementia are also more susceptible to financial abuse, identity theft, fraud or get-rich-quick schemes, experts warn. (iStock)

4. Request electronic bank and credit card statements and look for unusual purchases or changes in the way the person usually spends money.

5. Join the “Do Not Call” list at donotcall.gov to protect yourself from telemarketing calls and potential phone scams.

Moreno advises to start a conversation about managing your finances as soon as possible.

For more health articles, visit www.foxnews/health.

“In the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, people become more aware of how important these issues are and what suspicious activities to avoid,” she said.

“If you wait, these concepts become more difficult to understand as your family member's memory and other executive functions decline.”

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Fox News Digital has reached out to investigators at the Federal Reserve in New York for comment.

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