Forbes Guest post written by
Jason Karlawish, MD, and Dan G. Blazer, MD, Ph.D.
Members, Institute of Medicine Committee on the Public Health Dimensions of Cognitive Aging
By the time the condominium association notified Renee Packel that she and her husband were months late paying their fee, Mr. Packel, who was in charge of the bill paying, had also made several erroneous business transactions. Their money had disappeared. A few months later, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Of all life’s day-to-day chores, managing finances is among the most cognitively demanding. Declines in financial capacity are among the first signs that an older adult is suffering from cognitive impairment, which means that not only doctors but the banking and financial services industries are also diagnosing it. The more the industry steps up to meet this new role, the more likely aging Americans will preserve their wealth and their health.
Among older adults, especially those 75 and older, diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are common causes of subtle and eventually disabling cognitive changes. A recent Institute of Medicine report found added reason for concern. Many older adults who are free of these diseases experience cognitive aging.
The report — “Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action” — explains that, with aging, some cognitive abilities remain stable or even improve, particularly knowledge and vocabulary. Other abilities, however, decline, and among these, the most concerning is the capacity for fluid intelligence, thinking fast and flexibly, and holding multiple facts at the same time to reach a decision.
These changes help explain why aging Americans are not only more likely than their middle aged counterparts to make financial mistakes or decisions that are less than ideal for their financial well-being, but also to be victims of predators who exploit their vulnerability. The Investor Protection Trust found twenty percent of persons 65 and older self-reported being taken advantage of by activities such as unsuitable investments, inappropriate fees, or blatant fraud. Annual losses from fraud and abuse are estimated to be as high as $2.9 billion each year.
For aging Americans who have capably and independently managed and grown their wealth through most of their adult lives, after retirement, events may conspire to set them up for a crisis. Income becomes fixed. Funds are needed to pay for everyday care, and financial management becomes more complex. Declines in cognition, coupled with predators — whether strangers or family and friends – puts older adults at financial risk. These events coincide when the older adult no longer can reenter the work force or has the time to recover losses. The burden of the loss not only falls on the older adult, but their family and society as well.
Cognitive impairment is not simply a medical problem. It’s a public health problem, and the banking and financial services industries are at its front lines. America must think outside the biomedical box to envision a system that cares for our health and our wealth. (Continue Reading)
Full Article & Source:
Why Bankers, Financial Analysts And Doctors Need To Start Working Together