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Given the central importance of normal cognitive function to decision-making in later life, National Seniors Australia contracted the Flinders Business School and the University of Western Australia to undertake a study into better ways of assessing cognitive health. This research project investigates the relationship between cognitive health and financial decision-making among older Australians aged 55 years and over, and identifies factors that will encourage regular cognitive screening among older Australians.

Cognition can deteriorate without people being aware of it. Problems in planning and decision-making can occur when there is unrecognised cognitive impairment, putting people at risk. On the other hand, self-diagnosis leads people to believe that there is decline where there is none. This can be an unintended consequence of the growing awareness and promotion of the problem of dementia, leading people who haven’t had the benefit of expert advice to disengage from activities and prematurely abdicate responsibility to others. Because ongoing assessment is an important health prevention option, this project also examined the attitudes of older Australians to on-going cognitive screening, and the practicalities of doing it.

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