Keck School of Medicine awarded $2 million to help identify if financial vulnerability is risk factor for Alzheimer’s

The Han Research Lab at the Keck School of Medicine has been awarded a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to study the link between financial decision making and Alzheimer’s Disease. The collaboration between primary investigator Duke Han, PhD, and co-investigators Laura Mosqueda, MD, Hussein Yassine, MD, Annie Nguyen, PhD, and Xinhui Wang, PhD seeks to find out if vulnerability to financial exploitation can help identify older adults at risk for cognitive decline.

The study titled, “Finance, Cognition, and Default Network in Aging (FCDNA)” will follow 180 older adults for three years measuring cognition, behavioral economic preferences, neuroimaging and genetics. By leveraging both quantitative data and qualitative interviews, the team hopes to better understand financial vulnerability in older age and how this relates to risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. This knowledge may help inform intervention and preventive care for those who may be at risk for dementia.

“We care immensely about the health and financial wellbeing of older adults,” shares Han. “In addition to the quantitative measurements such as neuroimaging and genetic testing, we are interviewing people to hear their stories. We hope our work leads to the development of new ways that might benefit older adults.”

In the United States, it is estimated that older adults are exploited for an estimated $3 billion to $36 billion annually. Additionally, financial abuse of older adults is the most common type of elder abuse and is associated with significant health issues. In identifying these markers early, health care professionals can learn how to detect and intervene to help older adults with their cognitive health and overall wellbeing as they age.

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