Are Alzheimer disease and related dementias (ADRD) associated with adverse financial outcomes in the years before and after diagnosis?
In this cohort study of 81 364 Medicare beneficiaries living in single-person households, those with ADRD were more likely to miss bill payments up to 6 years prior to diagnosis and started to develop subprime credit scores 2.5 years prior to diagnosis compared with those never diagnosed. These negative financial outcomes persisted after ADRD diagnosis, accounted for 10% to 15% of missed payments in our sample, and were more prevalent in census tracts with less college education.
Alzheimer disease and related dementias were associated with adverse financial events starting years prior to clinical diagnosis.
Alzheimer disease and related dementias (ADRD), currently incurable neurodegenerative diseases, can threaten patients’ financial status owing to memory deficits and changes in risk perception. Deteriorating financial capabilities are among the earliest signs of cognitive decline, but the frequency and extent of adverse financial events before and after diagnosis have not been characterized.
To describe the financial presentation of ADRD using administrative credit data.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This retrospective secondary data analysis of consumer credit report outcomes from 1999 to 2018 linked to Medicare claims data included 81 364 Medicare beneficiaries living in single-person households.
Occurrence of adverse financial events in those with vs without ADRD diagnosis and time of adverse financial event from ADRD diagnosis.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Missed payments on credit accounts (30 or more days late) and subprime credit scores.
Overall, 54 062 (17 890 [33.1%] men; mean [SD] age, 74 [7.3] years) were never diagnosed with ADRD during the sample period and 27 302 had ADRD for at least 1 quarter of observation (8573 [31.4%] men; mean [SD] age, 79.4 [7.5] years). Single Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with ADRD were more likely to miss payments on credit accounts as early as 6 years prior to diagnosis compared with demographically similar beneficiaries without ADRD (7.7% vs 7.3%; absolute difference, 0.4 percentage points [pp]; 95% CI, 0.07-0.70:) and to develop subprime credit scores 2.5 years prior to diagnosis (8.5% vs 8.1%; absolute difference, 0.38 pp; 95% CI, 0.04-0.72). By the quarter after diagnosis, patients with ADRD remained more likely to miss payments than similar beneficiaries who did not develop ADRD (7.9% vs 6.9%; absolute difference, 1.0 pp; 95% CI, 0.67-1.40) and more likely to have subprime credit scores than those without ADRD (8.2% vs 7.5%; absolute difference, 0.70 pp; 95% CI, 0.34-1.1). Adverse financial events were more common among patients with ADRD in lower-education census tracts. The patterns of adverse events associated with ADRD were unique compared with other medical conditions (eg, glaucoma, hip fracture).
Conclusions and Relevance
Alzheimer disease and related dementias were associated with adverse financial events years prior to clinical diagnosis that become more prevalent after diagnosis and were most common in lower-education census tracts.
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Nicholas LH, Langa KM, Bynum JPW, Hsu JW. Financial Presentation of Alzheimer Disease and Related Dementias. JAMA Intern Med. 2021;181(2):220–227. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.6432
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