Kindness or foolishness? Research shows that giving money generously is the first sign that an elderly person is mentally retarded.
- Older people who are generous with money get poor grades on cognitive tests and have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Researchers have found that some mentally retarded older people give money to strangers.
- They warn that the family and caregivers of an elderly person who suddenly becomes altruistic should be concerned.
- The elderly are often the victims of fraud, and about $ 3 billion is stolen each year.
A new study has found that altruism in old age is not a sign of generosity in later life, but instead warns that a loved one is suffering from dementia.
Researchers at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (USC) have found that older people who are willing to give money to a stranger are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease if they fail cognitive tests.
The study links the generally praised behavior of altruism to a serious medical condition and may serve as a warning to some caregivers.
It has long been known that older people are more prone to fraud and extortion because of their poor mental health, but this study shows that positive examples can also signal a danger.
Researchers have found that older people who give money to a stranger have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and score worse on cognitive tests (file image)
“Difficulties with working with money are considered one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and this finding supports this notion,” said Dr. Duke Khan, a professor of neuropsychology at USC who led the study.
The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Alzheimer’s Disease, recruited 67 elderly people in their 70s.
Each participant paired ten with someone they had never met before in the lab and handed out ten dollars to share with each other.
Dr. Gali Weisberger, chief researcher at Bar-Ilan University, said: “According to our data, this is the first study to study attitudes using the behavioral economics paradigm, which represents a scenario where participants have to decide whether to give or keep real money.” Israel, he said.
Elderly participants were also given neurological tests to determine their current cognitive status and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers have found that those who are willing to give more money to someone they have never met have a higher cognitive risk and a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.
“The findings of this study suggest a negative link between financial altruism and cognitive functioning in older adults on measures known to be susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease,” the researchers wrote.
Dr. Duke Khan (pictured), a professor of neuropsychology at USC, said difficulties in managing money could be the first sign of Alzheimer’s.
“The findings also suggest a potential link between the risk of financial exploitation and Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly.”
Researchers warn that people need to be on guard against such a sudden change in their behavior, not just because their loved one has suddenly become generous in old age.
The khan says that giving money is not bad, but some may decide to be generous as they get older.
“The last thing we want is for people to think that financial altruism among older people is a bad thing … it can certainly be a deliberate and positive use of a person’s money,” he said.
This study is small, and researchers want to study the link between cognitive decline and increased generosity.
Older people are known to be the main target of financial scams, as they may not be as sharp as they were when they were younger.
Some also say that the loneliness and isolation that some suffer from puts them at greater risk.
Many older people are also financially excluded and may not realize how much money they really have because their family or caregiver may later take control of their account.
According to the US Senate, fraudsters steal about $ 3 billion a year from older Americans.