How Spending Errors Can Be Early Indicators of Alzheimer’s
“We went into the study thinking we could see these financial indicators,” said Lauren Hersch Nicholas, co-author of the study, associate professor of public health at the University of Colorado. “But we were kind of surprised and upset when we found out that you really can do it. That said, it’s widespread enough because we’re including it in a sample of 80,000 people. “
For decades, Pam McElreath kept the books for the insurance agency she and her husband Jimmy owned in Aberdeen, NC. In the early 2000s, she ran into problems with routine tasks. She assigned the wrong billing codes to expenses, filled out checks with the wrong year, and forgot to pay her husband’s life insurance premium.
Everyone makes mistakes, right? It’s only part of aging, her friends would say.
“But it’s not that my friend made that one mistake,” said Ms. McElreath, 67. “I had to correct more mistakes every month. And I knew something was wrong. “
She was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment in 2011 at the age of 56 and two years later with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. In 2017, doctors changed their diagnosis to frontotemporal dementia.
Getting a devastating diagnosis is hard enough, but it’s also hard to learn how to deal with. Finally, both Ms. McElreath and Ms. Turner have put in place mechanisms to keep their finances in balance.
Ms. Turner, who has two grown children, lives alone. After her diagnosis, she hired a finance manager and together they set up a system that gives her a fixed amount of pocket money each month and does not allow her to make large withdrawals on the fly. She dropped her credit cards and removed eBay and Amazon from her cell phone.
Although she is not a micromanager, the financial advisor keeps an eye on Ms. Turner’s expenses and asks her if something is wrong.