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Low Scam Awareness Marker of MCI Diagnosis

Have you ever received a “robocall” in which an automated voice was on the other end of the line?  Many of us receive these irritating phone calls-including older adults. A sad reality of today’s technology is the risk it poses to vulnerable populations-namely; senior citizens.

According to AARP, older Americans lose billions per year to scammers through the aforementioned “robocalls”, sweepstakes scams and computer support scams, among others. Older adults are at higher-risk for falling prey to these scams, and individuals with a memory impairment are at an even higher risk.

A study out of Chicago measured the awareness of 935 older adults in regards to scams. The research asked participants to answer five questions regarding their attitudes to risky investments, how informed participants were about scams meant to target older adults and their openness to sales pitches. Following this questionnaire, participants underwent neurological and psychological exams intended to diagnose cognitive impairments, like Alzheimer’s.

Authors of the study found that participants who achieved a low sore on the questionnaire measuring scam awareness had correlating signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Their hope is that a low awareness for scams can eventually help diagnose dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease.

It is important to note that these correlations aren’t robust enough to suggest being the target of a scam means a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease.



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