Trouble Tracking Finances May Be an Early Warning Sign of Dementia

By Mohan Garikiparithi
Mohan Garikiparithi
Mohan Garikiparithi
June 27, 2019 Updated: March 4, 2020

If you’ve been having a hard time tracking your finances and remembering to pay bills, it could be an early sign of a bigger problem.

Sure, everyone forgets the occasional expense they racked up. But if you’re struggling with tasks like calculating your account balance, it could be the sign of early memory loss associated with dementia.

Researchers from Duke University tested 243 adults, between the ages of 55 and 90, on their financial skills. They also took brain scans to look at levels of beta-amyloid plaque, which can affect memory. The build-up of this plaque is closely associated with Alzheimer’s. Participants in the study displayed a range of brain health, with some showing no signs of mental decline, others had mild memory trouble, while some had Alzheimer’s.

The result was that certain financial skills declined with age and were present at early stages of memory impairment. As beta-amyloid plaque concentrations increased, people became worse at understanding relatively basic financial concepts and tasks like calculating an account balance.

These results not only serve as a warning sign for people but may help to explain why older adults are often victimized by financial scammers. Thankfully, with warning comes the opportunity for prevention.

Beta-amyloid plaque prevention is possible through certain lifestyle measures. Research has shown that regular physical activity and an anti-inflammatory diet can help. Some foods that have been noted to play a role in improving memory or preventing beta-amyloid include:

  • Nuts like walnuts, almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts
  • Salmon, mackerel, sardines, and other omega-3 rich fatty fish
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
  • Spinach, kale, collards and other leafy greens
  • Turmeric
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate

A Mediterranean-style diet is a good model to follow and can be adopted at any age. Exercise, too, is something you can start regardless of how old you are. If you have existing health conditions, like heart problems, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine.

If you’re struggling to balance your bankbooks, it could be a sign that memory is starting to fade. Try and stop further degradation by adopting a healthier diet and lifestyle.

Mohan Garikiparithi received his degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). This article was first published on Bel Marra Health.

Mohan Garikiparithi
Mohan Garikiparithi