Fluid vs. crystallized intelligence over time

As Cognition Slips, Financial Skills Are Often the First to Go

When Helen Clark brought her father-in-law, then 83, to the doctor last year, she knew his mind was slowing, but a mental status exam confirmed it. He knew the year, where he lived and the name of the president. But when the doctor asked him to count backward from 100, subtracting seven from each number — 100, 93, 86, 79 — a look of confusion washed over his face. Studies show that the ability to perform simple math problems, as well as handling financial matters, are typically one of the first set of skills to decline in diseases of the mind, like Alzheimer’s, and Ms. Clark’s father-in-law, who suffered from mild dementia, was no exception. Research has also shown that even cognitively normal people may reach a point where financial decision-making becomes more challenging. “A person can appear to have their wherewithal cognitively, but not have the ability to understand money in the same way anymore,” said Ms. Clark, a retired registered nurse and family therapist in Cottonwood, Calif. ….[READ]

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