• August 7, 2023
  • Posted by General Electric Credit Union
  • 5 read

Alzheimer's Disease and Money Obsession: Explaining the Connection

Alzheimer's disease affects over 6 million Americans in the U.S.1 One of the lesser-known aspects of this condition is its potential to trigger a money obsession or financial fixations in affected individuals. Use this guide to deepen your understanding of this phenomenon so you can better serve loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. 

The connection

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder that primarily affects memory, thinking, and behavior. It typically starts with mild memory loss and confusion but, as it progresses, later interferes with daily life. This can lead to challenges communicating, recognizing loved ones, and performing daily tasks. 

The connection between Alzheimer's disease and money obsession is multifaceted. Alzheimer's primarily damages the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory, and the frontal cortex, which governs judgment and decision-making. These cognitive impairments can lead to a distorted perception of financial matters and money fixations.

Loved ones with Alzheimer's may also want to maintain a sense of control and familiarity in their lives. Money represents a form of security and independence, and the fear of losing control due to memory loss may intensify their obsession.

The manifestation

A preoccupation with money can manifest in different ways, including:  

  • Repeatedly checking finances. Individuals with Alzheimer’s may repeatedly check their bank statements, account balances, or bills, even if they are already aware of their financial situation. This obsessive behavior can cause anxiety and distress.
  • Uncharacteristic spending patterns. Individuals with Alzheimer's might display unusual spending habits, such as making frequent and unnecessary purchases or falling for scams due to their impaired judgment. Seniors are a target, so be sure to familiarize yourself with elder financial abuse
  • Hoarding money. Some loved ones may hide or stash money in odd places, such as a dresser or under a mattress. This is driven by a deep-seated fear of financial instability, even if they no longer comprehend the value of money or its purpose.

The impact 

Money obsession in loved ones with Alzheimer's can significantly impact their overall well-being and quality of life. Financial mismanagement can lead to consequences like unpaid bills and potential financial exploitation. Family members may find it challenging to strike a balance between helping their senior loved ones while respecting their autonomy.

Caregivers often face emotional and financial strain as they grapple with the demands of supporting a loved one with Alzheimer's. Coping with behavioral changes, including money fixations, requires understanding and patience. Professional help from financial advisors and legal experts may be essential to safeguard a loved one’s assets and future care.

Alzheimer's disease can pose many challenges both to the individual it affects as well as their family members. General Electric Credit Union (GECU) is committed to helping members and their loved ones navigate this financial challenge. Register for our upcoming webinar for a more in-depth discussion of Alzheimer’s symptoms. This Estate Planning Month, after you have personally reviewed your current beneficiary designations, and if you are still unsure about them, schedule a 30 minute no-cost consultation with a Wood + Lamping LLP legal advisor by visiting: gecreditunion.org/legal-services.2

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