Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy

Latest Episodes

Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
This Is Uncomfortable
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Missed “Marketplace” with Kai Ryssdal on air? Catch up here! Listen now

How undiagnosed Alzheimer’s can impact personal finances

Rose Conlon and David Brancaccio Oct 25, 2019
Share Now on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

How undiagnosed Alzheimer’s can impact personal finances

Rose Conlon and David Brancaccio Oct 25, 2019
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Share Now on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY

People with Alzheimer’s disease often experience mild to moderate symptoms for years before they’re diagnosed. And because one of the first functional changes the progressive brain disorder causes is diminished ability to manage money, it can wreck havoc on patients’ personal finances. 

New research from Georgetown University links this period before diagnosis to negative financial outcomes. 

“You have this multi-year period where people are experience these symptoms, but families might not be aware,” said Carole Roan Gresenz, lead author of the study.

People with early-stage Alzheimer’s are at a higher risk of experiencing large reductions in liquid assets and net wealth. These losses can be the result of poor financial decision-making like failure to pay bills on time, overspending, and unwise investments. But those with the disease are also more vulnerable to economic exploitation by others. They’re more likely to become the victims of scams or elder financial abuse.

For families, the timing of the financial loss can be particularly devastating.

“What’s concerning about these findings is that these negative changes in financial outcomes are occurring just as these families are going to be faced with large and substantial costs of caregiving — when individuals enter the final stage of dementia and symptoms are severe,” Gresenz said.

To help prevent these kinds of losses, people can initiate conversations with elderly relatives, even if there’s no apparent signs of cognitive impairment — especially where there’s a family history of Alzheimer’s. Research suggests that those with a close family member who has been diagnosed with the disease are about 30% more likely to be diagnosed themselves.

“It’s good to make sure that things in terms of spending look like they’re on track, and are consistent with however that person was spending their money in the past,” Gresenz said.

She also points to the role financial institutions could play in preventing Alzheimer’s-related financial loss in the future. Her team is working on matching credit data with Medicare claims data to understand more about the specific financial vulnerabilities diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients are experiencing most.

You can find our reporting on how the aging brain might be more susceptible to financial scams here.

If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air.  But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.

Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.

When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.