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Alzheimer's detected four years earlier if considering banking behaviours, finds new research

  • Date: Tue, Apr 30, 2024

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By Beth Gormley, Communications and PR Manager, UCD College of Business

AI based models using clinically informed lead indicators and data related to money management difficulties can predict clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) four years in advance.

Information relating to money management difficulties is of central importance in formulating the predictions, finds new research from UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, and National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

ADRD are often diagnosed too late. Early-stages of dementia, before official diagnosis, can be a vulnerable period with financial mistakes and deterioration of financial skills going unnoticed. This can lead to individuals falling victim to scams and missed payments on credit accounts, among other financial decisions that can have detrimental impact.

Professor Cal Muckley from UCD College of Business, and Shivam Agarwal, Assistant Professor from Maynooth University, examined the importance of including money management difficulties, compared to lead dementia indicators, in predicting ADRD diagnosis with a machine learning algorithm. Lead indicators include age, education, health, gender, etc.

Using a machine learning algorithm, the findings show that 71% of individuals clinically diagnosed with ADRD are identified four years in advance when considering money management difficulties alongside lead indicators. 

“For individuals living in a single person household, this rate rises to 92%. Also, relative to other lead indicators, excluding age, money management difficulties are ranked the most important lead indicator of a clinical diagnosis of dementia,” explains Professor Muckley.

These findings demonstrate that financial institutions with insight into the financial transactions of older customers are uniquely positioned to identify who might be in a vulnerable situation due to early-stage dementia. Financial institutions can use this data to enhance their protection of customers with dementia and to inform the inter-generational transfer of financial control to a reliable agent.

As financial institutions have a duty of care to protect their customers, they are required to enable these individuals to achieve the same financial outcomes as experienced by those customers not afflicted by such challenging personal circumstances.

This study is the first to show money management difficulties are of paramount importance to predicting dementia. The paper can be  viewed and downloaded on SSRN here.

Published in the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, researchers report that about 55,000 people in Ireland, in 2020, are clinically diagnosed with ADRD and this number is expected to increase to 141,200 people by 2050. As indicated at the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, this means that, as a percentage of the overall population, people with dementia will represent 2.49% in 2050 compared to about 1.09% today.

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