New York Times (October 30, 2010): Money Woes Can Be Early Clue to Alzheimer's

Publication Date: 
Sat, 10/30/2010

Renee Packel used to have a typical suburban life. Her husband, Arthur, was a lawyer and also sold insurance. They lived in a town house just outside Philadelphia, and Mrs. Packel took care of their home and family.

One day, it all came crashing down. The homeowners’ association called asking for their fees. To Mrs. Packel’s surprise, her husband had simply stopped paying them. Then she learned he had stopped writing checks to his creditors, too.

It turned out that Mr. Packel was developing Alzheimer's disease and had forgotten how to handle money. When she tried to pay their bills, Mrs. Packel, who enlisted the help of a forensic accountant, could not find most of the couple’s money.

“It just disappeared,” she said.

What happened to the Packels is all too common, Alzheimer’s experts say. New research shows that one of the first signs of impending dementia is an inability to understand money and credit, contracts and agreements.

It is not just families who are affected - financial advisors and lawyers say they are finding themselves in a bind when their clients’ minds seem to be slipping.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the largest nongovernmental regulator for securities firms doing business in the United States, recently met with individual financial services companies and the Alzheimer's Association to formulate guidelines on how to deal with clients who have trouble remembering and reasoning, a problem that is not new but is increasing as the population ages.

www.nytimes.com/2010/10/31/health/healthspecial/31finances.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=homepage