If You're Forgetting to Do This One Thing, See Your Doctor Immediately

While it happens to the best of us, it could be an early sign of a serious condition.


With so much going on in the world, it's easy to forget to do some of the little tasks in life, like taking out the garbage or picking up your laundry. Forgetting small things here and there is common and usually harmless, but a recent study found that if you frequently forget to pay your bills, especially credit card bills, it could be an early sign of Alzheimer's disease. Read on for more on this study, and to make sure you have your facts straight, ditch The Biggest Myth About Dementia You Need to Stop Believing.

The study, published on Nov. 30 in The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that patterns of missed credit card and loan payments could indicate dementia and Alzheimer's. According to the study, "Alzheimer disease and related dementias were associated with adverse financial events starting years prior to clinical diagnosis."

Researchers studied the credit data and payment history of 81,000 Medicare patients over an almost 20-year period. They found that those with Alzheimer's and dementia were more likely to miss payments as early as six years before getting an official diagnosis.

Researchers say that missing payments wasn't linked to any other medical conditions—it's unique to dementia. "Dementia was the only medical condition where we saw consistent financial symptoms, especially the long period of deteriorating outcomes before clinical recognition," lead author of the study, Lauren Hersch Nicholas, PhD, said in a statement.

An easy way to identify yourself or a family member who may have fallen into this pattern is by checking a credit score. According to the study, missing payments led to subprime credit scores in many of the patients about two-and-a-half years before diagnosis. If you or a loved one fits this description, you may want to contact a doctor.

Of course, missing payments is not the only early indicator of Alzheimer's disease. Keep reading for more early signs of Alzheimer's you should know, and for more on your risk level, If You Live in This State, You Could Be at a Higher Risk of Alzheimer's.

Diminished sense of smell

older woman smelling white rose

If you notice your ability to smell dwindling, you should let your doctor know. According to the National Institute on Aging, losing your sense of smell can be a symptom of Alzheimer's. A loss of your sense of smell could also be a symptom of COVID, so if this symptom came on suddenly, you should consider getting a COVID test. And for an easy at-home test, If You Can't Smell These 2 Things, You May Have COVID.

Forgetting important dates and events

confused older white man pointing at calendar

It's one thing to forget your grocery list at home, but if you find yourself frequently forgetting important dates like your children's birthdays or the appointment you scheduled, that could be a cause for concern, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

Trouble solving basic problems

older black woman with head in hands talking to doctor

People with Alzheimer's struggle to problem-solve simple issues that would be easy for another person to resolve, according to the Columbia University Department of Neurology.

Forgetting the names of everyday objects

Older woman confused about ipad

If you find yourself stumped on what you call a toothbrush or cup, you should let someone know. According to the Mayo Clinic, this forgetfulness could be related to Alzheimer's. And for another early sign, This One Thing Can Catch Alzheimer's 20 Years Before Your Symptoms Start.

Trouble with the passage of time

Woman experiencing delirium and confusion

People who don't have Alzheimer's have no problem discerning between a few minutes and a few hours, but those with the illness can struggle with the passage of time. "Five minutes can seem like five hours for someone with [Alzheimer's disease]," Lisa P. Gwyther, MSW, an associate professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, told CBS News. "So a husband may think his wife has been gone for hours or even weeks, even if it's just been a few minutes, or he might tell his grandchild that he hasn't seen him in five years, even though he just saw him yesterday."

Becoming aggressive

mature couple talking at home

The sudden onset of aggression is common among people with Alzheimer's, according to the National Institute on Aging. And to learn how to reduce your risk, Doing This One Thing Could Drop Your Alzheimer's Risk by 30 Percent.

Difficulty sleeping

senior asian man lying in bed cannot sleep from insomnia

Sleep problems can be a result of many different things—including Alzheimer's. "There's an association between Alzheimer's and sleep disturbances," Jose Colon, MD, a sleep medicine doctor, told Lee Health. "You can't make an early diagnosis of Alzheimer's based on sleep patterns, but when someone has disruptive sleep patterns, you want to keep an eye on that." And for more on sleep and Alzheimer's, How Well You Sleep Predicts Your Alzheimer's Risk, Study Says.

Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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