Financial Problems? What That Says About Your Health

Have you ever found a charge on your credit card that you don’t remember making?

Or have you found that planning for your financial future just seems too complicated?

These could be warning signs that more than your bank account is in trouble.

Balancing the Books

Most research into Alzheimer’s disease focuses on memory.

But a stunning new study out of Duke University just turned that practice on its head.

And it revealed that having trouble managing money could be an early warning sign of dementia.

Researchers ran brain scans on patients between the ages of 55 and 90. They looked for buildup of beta-amyloid (the protein that clumps together and forms plaques between nerve cells in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients).

Some of the patients had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Others had mild memory impairment (a precursor to Alzheimer’s), and the remainder were otherwise healthy.

The patients were then tested on basic financial skills, including calculating an account balance.

Researchers cross-referenced the results with the brain scans. And they found a clear correlation between declining financial skills and the very earliest stages of mild memory problems.

Naturally, the higher the level of plaque buildup, the worse a person was at the skills test.

But it didn’t take much to see a decline. And this was the case for both men and women.

A Run for Your Money

This new research suggests a financial skills test could be a useful tool in tracking brain function. And the results were able to show even small changes in plaque buildup.

It turns out that just a small change in your ability to keep track of your finances could point to cognitive decline… and that a potential accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques could put folks at a higher risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

But there’s good news…

The sooner it’s caught, the easier it could be to tackle before it becomes a bigger issue.

Your doctor can assess your risk factors.

Typically this would involve a neurological exam, brain imaging or simple blood work to see if you’re lacking certain vitamins known to lead to cognitive decline (like B12).

Alzheimer’s and dementia can spring up very quickly. So it’s critical to know that a sudden change in financial decisions or abilities is a warning sign you can take action on.

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