Increased Financial Altruism is Associated with Alzheimer's Disease Neurocognitive Profile in Older Adults

J Alzheimers Dis. 2022;88(3):995-1005. doi: 10.3233/JAD-220187.


Background: Older age is associated with an increase in altruistic behaviors such as charitable giving. However, few studies have investigated the cognitive correlates of financial altruism in older adults.

Objective: This study investigated the cognitive correlates of financial altruism measured using an altruistic choice paradigm in a community-based sample of older adults.

Methods: In the present study, a sample of older adults (N = 67; M age = 69.21, SD = 11.23; M education years = 15.97, SD = 2.51; 58.2% female; 71.6% Non-Hispanic White) completed a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment and an altruistic choice paradigm in which they made decisions about allocating money between themselves and an anonymous person.

Results: In multiple linear regression analyses that controlled for age, education, and sex, financial altruism was negatively associated with performance on cognitive measures typically sensitive to early Alzheimer's disease (including word list learning and recall, delayed story recall, and animal fluency).

Conclusion: Findings of this study point to a negative relationship between financial altruism and cognitive functioning in older adults on measures known to be sensitive to Alzheimer's disease. Findings also point to a potential link between financial exploitation risk and Alzheimer's disease in older age.

Keywords: Altruism; Alzheimer’s disease; cognition; economic factors; episodic memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Altruism
  • Alzheimer Disease* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Verbal Learning