Older adults susceptible to financial scams may have a greater chance of developing cognitive impairment, according to a study published April 16 ($) in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The research, conducted at the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, involved 935 older adults who did not have dementia. They were assessed for “scam awareness” by rating their agreement to statements using a 7-point scale. There were five statements:
- I answer the telephone whenever it rings, even if I do not know who is calling.
- I have difficulty ending a phone call, even if the caller is a telemarketer, someone I do not know, or someone I did not wish to call me.
- If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
- Persons older than 65 are often targeted by con artists.
- When telemarketers call me, I usually listen to what they have to say.
Higher scores indicated lower scam awareness. The average score was 2.8.
Over the next six years, 16.1 percent of participants went on to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals who originally had low scam awareness were more likely to go on to develop dementia.The study does not show whether those who had low scam awareness were actually scammed in real life, Penn Memory Center (PMC) co-director Jason Karlawish, MD, pointed out in an accompanying editorial ($) published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
“What this study suggests is that the earliest signs of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s may not simply be memory loss, but trouble with what we call social cognition, using our emotions and the world around us to make decisions,” Karlawish said.
Four years ago, Karlawish publicly introduced (in this Forbes column) the concept of “Whealthcare,” which he defines as “a paradigm of merging the banking and financial sector, or wealth, with healthcare.” He says this is one way to help slow the the growth of elder financial abuse.“Imagine the day when we use real-time financial data not simply to catch crooks but also to better measure and monitor our brain health,” Karlawish wrote in his editorial.
PMC is committed to the fight against elder exploitation. We, along with representatives from financial institutions and law enforcement, are a member of the Philadelphia Financial Exploitation Prevention Task Force. You can learn more about the task force here.
The Penn Memory Center team mourns the loss of Janet Caplan, who died April 16. She was 76. Her husband and son describe Janet as “having a heart of gold, with enough love to share with everyone. There was nothing that she loved more than her family.”
Janet was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease by Co-Director David Wolk, MD. The necessary round-the-clock care that followed inspired Janet’s husband, philanthropist Eli Caplan, to establish the Caplan Family Caring Difference Fund. The fund provides help to other caregivers in need of support, allowing the Penn Memory Center to expand programmatic offerings to support more people in more creative ways than ever before. The Caplan family also established the Janet Caplan Endowed Fellowship Fund, which supports clinical trainees at PMC.
In The News
PMC neurologist Roy Hamilton, MD, MS, did a fun interview with Marissa Martinelli, assistant editor at Slate Magazine. In the Q&A, Hamilton explains how memory works, the realities of amnesia (particularly how it’s depicted in shows such as “Jane the Virgin”), and how the sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” had a little something to do with his decision to become a neurologist. The article, “Would Zapping Away a Foe’s Memory Like in Jane the Virgin Really Work?” was published online on April 11. Click here to read the full interview.
We’re seeking a Clinical Research Coordinator A to support the research and administrative activities of the Penn Program on Precision Medicine for the Brain, led by Jason Karlawish, MD, and a team of faculty collaborators and research staff. This group examines the ethical, legal, and social issues related to the aging brain with a particular focus on Alzheimer’s disease. Current research focuses on understanding the experiences of individuals with ‘pre-clinical’ Alzheimer’s disease and the social and cultural transformations of Alzheimer’s disease. For more information and to apply, click here.
Now Enrolling: ‘Time Out’ Program
Time Out, an award-winning mentorship and respite care program, is recruiting students and families. Private respite care often costs more than $20 an hour, but Time Out care providers will be available for $8.50 an hour for up to 10 hours per week. For more information about the program and services provided, click here.
Families who would like to register or learn more should contact Alison Lynn, MSW, LCSW, at email@example.com or 215-360-0257.
College students who would like to register or learn more should contact Roynell Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dance for Health, a free weekly dance class for older adults, has returned to the Ralston Center. It’s held Saturdays until May 11 (excluding April 20) at 3615 Chestnut Street. The program is open to all adults 55 or older. To RSVP, contact Terrence Casey at email@example.com or 215-898-9979.
The National Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center is hosting a webinar series, sponsored by the Administration for Community Living. One of the presentations, titled “The Messages We Send: Stigma Toward Persons Living with Dementia and How to End It,” will be led by PMC scholar Shana Stites, PsyD, MA, MS and Rev. Cynthia Huling Hummel, D.Min., who is living with early stage dementia. Participants will be able to describe and define types of stigma around dementia, describe and give examples of the role of language in stigma around dementia, define what it means to use a strength-based approach with persons who have dementia, and list three examples of person-centered language to counter stigma around dementia. The presentation is on Tuesday, May 7 at 2 p.m. ET. It’s free and open to the public, but registration is required.
The next Memory Café will be held on Friday, May 17 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Christ Church Neighborhood House in Old City. Svitanya, an Eastern European women’s vocal group, will be performing. Memory Café is exclusively for people with memory problems, including Alzheimer’s disease, and their partners/families. The program is free. Please RSVP to Alison Lynn at 215-360-0257 or firstname.lastname@example.org. All 2019 dates are posted here.
The PMC Communications Team
Terrence Casey, Joyce Lee, Janissa Delzo, Linnea Langkammer, and Sharnita Midgett