Money Trouble May Signal Alzheimer’s Financial advisers ponder meaning of 'competence' By Emily Rauhala, Newser User Posted Oct 31, 2010 9:30 AM CDT 11 comments Comments Confusion about money may be an early sign of dementia. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – The first sign of Arthur Packel's Alzheimer's was the call from the homeowner's association asking for unpaid fees. As his mind began its long slide, it turns out, the first thing he did was simply stop paying bills. When his wife tried to pick up the slack, she found much of their money gone. And despite a forensic accountant's efforts, “It just disappeared,” Renee Packel tells the New York Times. Researchers say that confusion about money is perhaps "the most important and most predictable early functional change as people descend into dementia." But, they warn, it is hard to decide when, exactly, a person is not "competent" enough to care for themselves, let alone their money. Now, the Times notes, financial advisers are drafting their own rules. Click here for the latest on Alzheimer's disease.