Dementia and the ability to handle money: The warning signs of Alzheimer's Disease

I wrote recently about findings that many patients in the early stages of dementia, including those who would progress to Alzheimer's Disease, already showed a diminished capacity to handle finances. Several readers asked for more information about how to recognize those who may be struggling with this problem.

The ten warning signs of Alzheimer's Disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association, are:

1. Memory loss that disrupts life
2. Trouble with planning or problem-solving
3. Struggling to complete familiar tasks
4. Confusion with time or place
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
6. New problems with words in speaking and writing
7. Misplacing objects and the inability to retrace steps to find them
8. Diminished or poor judgment
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood or personality

Keep in mind that normal aging can bring about modest declines in each of these areas. The differences here are magnitude and disruption. Is the change consequential? Is it problematic?

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America holds a National Memory Screening Day each year (this year on November 17) when "Qualified healthcare professionals at community venues offer free confidential memory screenings..." Your family physician should also be able to guide you to local resources.

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