alzhPeople in their 50s and early 60s may notice their elderly parents having trouble with memory loss and handling finances.

One in eight Americans 65 and over and 43 percent of individuals 85 and over have Alzheimer’s disease. But financial advisors and accountants say elderly parents and adult children alike are too slow to seek or provide help in the early stages of decline.

Denial is part of it. Hoping to stay independent, parents may minimize their difficulties. Adult children hesitate to meddle and ignore warning signs.

Reporting in Smart Money, Kathleen Michon, an attorney and editor at Nolo, a provider of legal information and products, says the damage can be dire: closed accounts, damaged credit, money lost to scam artists, even foreclosure.

Red Flags: If older people give credit card information to callers on the phone. Older people should be warned of the dangers, however, older adults are also likely to donate money. They want to help and feel they are making a difference.

If you see a mailbox stuffed with donation requests, checkbook mistakes, unpaid bills, and desks and drawers that were once neatly organized now scattered with paperwork, your parents need help.

Don’t try to suddenly step in and take over. To ease into their financial affairs, begin by offering help with such matters as filling out insurance claims, helping to adjust property tax bills or checking credit card statements.