Financial Altruism May Indicate Cognitive Decline in Seniors

Financial altruism negatively associated with performance on cognitive measures known to be sensitive to early Alzheimer disease

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WEDNESDAY, June 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- There is a negative relationship between financial altruism and cognitive functioning in older adults, according to a study published online June 13 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Gali H. Weissberger, Ph.D., from Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, and colleagues investigated the cognitive correlates of financial altruism (measured using an altruistic choice paradigm) among a community-based sample of 67 older adults (58.2 percent women). Participants completed a neuropsychological assessment and an altruistic choice paradigm, in which they were asked to make a choice between allocating money to themselves or an anonymous person.

The researchers found that when controlling for age, education, and sex, financial altruism was negatively associated with performance on cognitive measures typically sensitive to early Alzheimer disease, including word list learning and recall, delayed story recall, and animal fluency.

"Our goal is to understand why some older adults might be more susceptible than others to scam, fraud, or financial exploitation," a coauthor said in a statement. "Trouble handling money is thought to be one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and this finding supports that notion."

One author disclosed being a consultant for the AARP Staying Sharp program.

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