Eric Chess MD, JD | University of Denver, Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging
Competition Sponsor: U.S. National Academy of Medicine
Awardee Year: 2022
The first sign of cognitive decline is often found in impaired financial decision-making by those who are unaware. This can occur years before any symptoms are noticeable in patients. Research has continued to identify growing independent risk factors regarding vulnerability to financial exploitation and fraud (social isolation, major health events, financial literacy). Currently, despite this research, there exists no accessible validated assessment of financial vulnerability or impaired financial decision-making that may be a precursor to cognitive impairement and dementia. The goal of this project is to create validated, practical and accessible, assessments to detect increased financial vulnerability and the earliest clinical signs of cognitive impairment. This will be achieved through the following three aims: 1) determine whether our practical accessible early screening assessment (ESA) is a valid test that builds on existing research, 2) determine whether the ESA aligns with the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) regarding those with cognitive impairment and 3) determine if our financial vulnerability score (FVS) correlates with likelihood of financial fraud and exploitation. Our inter-disciplinary team has developed an ESA to detect prodromal cognitive decline by way of impaired financial decision-making as well as FVS to identify increased risk of exploitation and fraud. Our testing takes less than 15 minutes to complete it can be done online (from any location) and without a trained practitioner. An accessible technologic tool to identify signs of financial vulnerability and resources to provide support and protection would alleviate the profound loss related to financial exploitation, fraud and poor/impaired decision-making.