FRIDAY, Dec. 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Alzheimer disease and related dementias (ADRDs) are associated with adverse financial events years prior to clinical diagnosis, according to a study published online Nov. 30 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Lauren Hersch Nicholas, Ph.D., from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues linked consumer credit report outcomes (1999 to 2018) to Medicare claims data for 81,364 Medicare beneficiaries living in single-person households to assess the frequency and extent of adverse financial events before and after an ADRD diagnosis.

The researchers found that single Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with ADRD were more likely to miss payments on credit accounts as early as six years prior to diagnosis versus demographically similar beneficiaries without ADRD (absolute difference, 0.4 percentage points [pp]) and were more likely to develop subprime credit scores 2.5 years prior to diagnosis (absolute difference, 0.38 pp). Patients with ADRD remained more likely to miss payments than similar beneficiaries who did not develop ADRD by the quarter after diagnosis (absolute difference, 1.0 pp) and to have subprime credit scores than those without ADRD (absolute difference, 0.70 pp). Among patients with ADRD in lower-education census tracts, adverse financial events were more common. These patterns of adverse financial events associated with ADRD were unique compared with other medical conditions (e.g., glaucoma, hip fracture).

“Even without effective medical treatments, earlier detection of cognitive impairment might help protect older adults and their families from adverse financial outcomes,” the authors write.

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