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Normally a diagnosis of dementia symptoms tends to come late but other signs may start appearing even six years before. According to a new study, “missing bill payments” should be added to the list of dementia symptoms such as confusion and forgetfulness. John Hopkins researchers have indicated that financial symptoms or signs of dementia start appearing in seniors years before they are diagnosed with dementia. 

Missing bill payments associated with dementia 

Most importantly the study established that Medicare beneficiaries that eventually develop dementia are likely to miss bill payment as early as six years before the official diagnosis. Since early detection of dementia is vital in treating and managing dementia, the study is very important for doctors and patients alike. 

Equally, there is an educational aspect to the study findings. For instance, low-educated individuals diagnosed with dementia began missing bill payments seven years early before being diagnosed. This is a huge difference compared to the 2.5-year difference between missed bill payments and diagnosis in adults that have high levels of education. It’s important to note that whether with dementia or not, failing to pay bills can ruin your credit score. As a result, researchers concluded that missed bill payments due to dementia can increase the chances of one having a low credit score with the 2.5 years of diagnosis. 

The study compared financial data of dementia and non-dementia individuals 

Bloomberg School’s Health Policy and Management Department associate professor, Lauren Hersch Nicholas said that currently there are no effective treatments that can reverse or delay dementia symptoms. Lauren indicated that earlier detection combined with information about the risk of irreversible financial events like repossession and foreclosure is important in protecting the financial wellbeing of a patient and the family. 

The researchers concluded by connecting credit report data and de-identified Medicare claims. Around 81,364 Medicare beneficiaries that stay in single-person households participated in the study. Out of the population, 27,302 of the beneficiaries were diagnosed with dementia between 1999 and 2014. The researchers then compared the financial results of the individuals diagnosed with dementia and those without.