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Posted: August 22, 2006

Financial Competency Test for Dementia Patients Unveiled

At what point when a loved one begins to slip into dementia do you pull the plug on their financial independence? That’s a tough question, but one that may be answered by a brief test just developed to help doctors determine whether a dementia patient can still handle their financial affairs.

The test, which takes just 25 minutes to administer, was developed by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who introduced it at the recent 2006 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders in Madrid.

The test examines eight areas of financial activity: basic monetary skills, conceptual knowledge, cash transactions, checkbook management, bank statement management, judgment, bill payment and knowledge of personal assets and/or estate arrangements.

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Dr. Daniel C. Marson, a UAB neuropsychologist with a law degree, led a team of five doctors in developing the exam. He called it the first test designed to specifically evaluate a dementia patient’s financial capabilities. Marson and his team drew up the test after evaluating the financial skills of a study group they assembled.

Marson said his group developed this test because doctors increasingly are asked to evaluate the financial competence of patients in our fast-aging population. He said this test will give families and courts objective guidance in doing this.

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