Licensed financial and medical professionals can help
We’ve always known certified public accountants and professional fiduciaries can play an important role in our financial health. But a new study shows financial experts like these could also hold a key to clients’ overall health through earlier Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition primarily affecting older adults. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and, while there is no cure at this time, current treatments can slow the worsening of symptoms and increase quality of life for those affected, making early diagnoses imperative.
As published in JAMA Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University public health and medicine researchers noted that, while deteriorating financial and record-keeping capabilities have long been said to be an early symptom of Alzheimer’s-related cognitive decline, there was no formal large-scale study outlining this concern.
To check this issue for themselves, the researchers combed through Medicare health care and demographic data for 81,364 single Medicare beneficiaries, and then compared that data against Federal Reserve Bank of New York/Equifax Consumer Credit Panel statistics. The Johns Hopkins researchers found that, of the Medicare beneficiaries, those whose medical records noted they currently had Alzheimer’s disease were more likely to miss routine bill payments up to six years prior to diagnosis and showed dropping credit scores 2.5 years prior to diagnosis, negatively impacting their finances throughout the progress of the illness.
“If undiagnosed [Alzheimer’s disease] leads to costly financial errors, earlier diagnosis could be valuable even without effective treatments or cures,” the researchers concluded. “Most Americans routinely use credit products, generating real-time information on borrowing and repayment behavior. Early signs of impaired capabilities may manifest as missing payment on routine bills or inappropriate credit use.”
If you or someone you love is having trouble with financial responsibilities and needs assistance, contact a professional licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) California Board of Accountancy or Professional Fiduciaries Bureau; if you need advice or support regarding Alzheimer’s disease, reach out to one of the many DCA-licensed allied health professionals. To check a California professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.