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The elderly, cognitive decline and banking

“THE older the wiser” may ring true for much of life, but not for our ability to handle money. Studies suggest financial decision-making ability tends to reach its peak in a person’s mid-50s, after when deterioration sets in. “Age-friendly” banks are beginning to learn how to protect vulnerable older customers.

The most dramatic forms of age-related mental deterioration are neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s. But even “normal” ageing can cause cognitive change. Financial-management skills are often early casualties, because they demand both knowledge and judgment.

Older people are more likely to struggle with day-to-day banking and are more susceptible to poor investment decisions. They are also more vulnerable to fraud or to financial exploitation, often by relatives. In 2010 the over-65s in America made up 13% of the population but had over a third of the wealth. British pensioners became especially vulnerable when reforms in April 2015 allowed them to withdraw savings previously locked up. Newspapers fretted that people would splurge their pensions on Lamborghinis. A greater concern should have been that they…Continue reading

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