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Look out for the Elderly

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Could falling prey to financial scams be a sign of dementia in older people?

To err is human. But if an older person falls for a financial scam, it may be an early warning sign of declining mental powersAnd such cognitive decline eventually leads to dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s afflicts a third of the population aged 85 or older. The disease is incurable. Existing “treatments” only serve to delay the loss of memory and must be taken as early as possible.

However, most patients retain their ability to remember names and other memories until Alzheimer’s disease reaches the late stage. As such, effective treatment relies on spotting the incipient signs of the disease at the soonest.

On a related note, $35 billion annually get stolen from older people in elder fraud cases. Figuring out how many people are vulnerable to falling for financial scams will also help protect senior citizens from criminals.

Con artists consider it easy to target older folk. The typical case is the “grandparents scam,” where the criminal gets in touch with their victim, pretends to be a grandchild or other family member, and begs for financial assistance to help cover the expenses of a sudden emergency.

Older people often keep large amounts of cash around the house. They are also often on their own at home and more inclined to answer a phone call, even if they do not recognize the number.

Researchers believe that the trend of con artists targeting older people involves something deeper than gullibility. Eventually, a team from Rush University found that falling for a financial scam might be the first sign of cognitive decline in senior citizens. If left unchecked, the loss of memory may develop into Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers got the idea for their study after learning about the recent spike in incidents of elder fraud.

“Even cognitively intact older people fall prey to pretty hard-to-believe scams,” explained Rush researcher Dr. Patricia Boyle, the author of the paper. “We want to know if this is telling us something about what’s going on in the brain, of something that’s going awry.”

Their study evaluated the awareness level of 935 older people regarding scams. They followed the mental acuity of the participants over an average of six years.

During the study period, the participants answered questions about their ability to notice that it was too good to be true, their propensity for picking the phone despite not recognizing the number, and if they found it difficult to cut the call short despite suspecting something was up.

Older people are twice as vulnerable to con artists and Alzheimer’s disease than previously believed

The Rush researchers uncovered considerable connections between scam awareness and mild cognitive decline, plus the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. They noted that older people who remain unaware of the scam face roughly twice the risk of experiencing diminished mental capacity or developing Alzheimer’s disease.

“[Scam awareness] involves multiple functions, cognition and, to some degree, evaluating an offer or situation also involves emotional regulation and social judgement,” warned Boyle. “Social judgement is a complex behavior that’s probably supported by diverse networks, and therefore [this function] may be at a vulnerability to early brain changes…which suggests that Alzheimer’s disease and associated change affects broader changes…than memory loss – it’s much more complex.”

The Rush study warned that older people are much more vulnerable to con artists and Alzheimer’s disease than expected. The researchers called for better ways to protect both the mental health and the wealth of senior citizens.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. So when a whole population falls for a scam such as – just to take an example put of the blue – the Climate Emergency, does this mean that we’re losing our cognitive ability? If so, why does this affect the young more than the old? I’m confused…..

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    • Not so much as our cognitive ability being lost, rather political integrity or common sense seems at a low level given the spray of nonsense in the candidates detail material that comes with the local body election material.

      There are some standing on the basis they support the climate emergency tosh. You cannot blame that on diminishing cognitive ability, more lack of critical thinking capacity or perhaps lemming like let’s rush over the edge mentality.

      Makes it easier to thin out the candidates so there is a plus factor.

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  2. I was thinking along the same lines Dave. I guess that is why ADULTS used to run the world and childrens’ opinions were normally not asked for when it came to political campaigns. Some adults have hysterically climbed on the CC bandwagon and appear to be listening to those children who now are encouraged by some to have a political voice. While elderly do become more gullible as they age not all elderly have bought into the CC change scam. It’s a topsy-turvy world where you need to keep an open mind and watch carefully who is operating the gears behind the curtain.

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  3. A socialization of the whole community, to fit into a cultural narrative, and then called a consensus, slowly changing the meaning of that word to mean no apparent dissent, so that it then can be said, ‘all are agreed’ into collectivization.

    The older people have had years of indoctrination, and even if they have fought against it, I can call that indoctrination an “unconscious bias” 🙂

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