A decline in the ability to manage money can be seen in patients a year before they develop Alzheimer's, according to researchers in the US.
The findings from the University of Alabama in Birmingham suggest that worsening financial skills could be a useful indicator for doctors treating those with memory problems.
Published in the journal Neurology, the results revealed that financial ability worsened by six per cent in the participants who started the study with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and progressed to Alzheimer's disease.
"This indicates that physicians and health-care providers need to watch patients with MCI closely for declining financial skills and advise families and caregivers to take steps to avoid negative financial events," said study leader Professor Daniel Marson.
The findings were welcomed by Dr Susanne Sorenson, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, who said they could be useful for doctors.
Author and Alzheimer's Research Trust patron Sir Terry Pratchett has spoken this week of the need to continue research into dementia to prevent "unbearable" effects on the health service and society.
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