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Falling behind on payments may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s, reports show

A report done by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said people were 34% more likely to not pay their credit bills on time.

Angelica Toruno and Nicole Alarcon Soares

Jun 5, 2024, 8:54 PM

Updated 16 days ago


Researchers say falling behind on payments could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
In a report done by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, researchers found a year before people were diagnosed with dementia, more than 17% were likely to be late on their mortgage payments than before the onset of the disease.
People were 34% more likely to not pay their credit bills on time, according to that same report.
Kristen Cusato from the Alzheimer's Association says she experienced this with her mother before her diagnosis.
"She'd been amazing to the penny checkbook person...after her diagnosis, she was making math mistakes and cross-outs, at one point cut up her credit card and said, ‘I'm not paying it anymore,’" Cusato said.
The study also found evidence of people falling behind on their payments as much as five years before doctors diagnosed them with Alzheimer's.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief of geriatrics for Hartford Healthcare, works closely with patients suffering from memory disorders like dementia. He says it has all to do with a patient’s decline in cognitive function.
"Once you start losing track of those pieces of memory, you have a harder time remembering to pay the bill and of course writing the check, or you need to know where your checkbook is," said Gupta.
Remembering to pay bills on time goes in hand with other cognitive thinking and other symptoms such as memory loss that disrupts daily life, challenges in planning or solving problems and difficulty completing familiar tasks.
Specialists say that these are all key signs for early diagnosis.
Both Gupta and Cusato encourage anyone who notices a loved one exhibiting any of these symptoms to see a doctor.
More information is available at the around-the-clock Alzheimer's Association Helpline at 800 272-3900.

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