Adam Cohen and Dr. Judith James

A series of studies have suggested that financial decision-making is one of the first areas to be affected by early-stage cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer's disease, dementia, stroke and related conditions.

Adam’s diary

I visited my mother this past week, and as she turns 88, she remains her usual happy, sunny self. However, she is exhibiting some memory problems, and my sister and I took over managing her finances after she failed to pay her income and property taxes.

How typical is it for financial problems to precede the onset of memory disorders?

Dr. James prescribes

Financial decisions involve a wide range of cognitive skills, including organization, information retrieval, mathematical analysis and processing, and integration of multiple variables and scenarios. So it follows that people who develop age-related cognitive problems would have difficulty managing their finances.