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SPECIAL REPORT: Banking on Alzheimer's

Two full years before Thom Miscianga was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he was showing subtle symptoms that something was wrong.

What the 30-year veteran of the CIA and his wife didn't know at the time, was that changes in how you handle money can reveal clues to Alzheimer’s - sometimes years before traditional clinical symptoms appear.

“"There's something about financial transactions that are so sensitive to difficulties with thinking, concentrating, paying attention, learning new information that often they're the first things when you look back, where the signs were there before the repetitive questions, the repetitious stories, the burned dinner, etc.."

Dr. Jason Karlawish is one of the nation's leading Alzheimer's researchers.

He identified financial habits as tools for early diagnosis when new patients continued to land in his office after making a series of devastating financial errors.

"There's no reason why these errors have to be discovered by walking into a room full of fire and smoke,” said Karlawish. “There should be far better alarms set-up, and even ways to predict people who might catch fire, if you will."

Which is why Karlawish is lending his expertise to the financial industry which is working to systematically identify nuanced financial changes and alert the customer and their trusted advocate, before something devastating happens.

"In some sense, the banking and financial services industries are on the front line of screening for cognitive decline in America," said Karlawish.

Dr. Karlawish says the participation of the financial community is as important as brain scans in identifying Alzheimer’s and protecting patients.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association every 65 seconds someone gets the disease - and it can often take years - sometimes more than a decade - before traditional symptoms are noticed.

Additionally, these new software programs used in the financial industry not only alert to potential cognitive changes, but discrepancies that are the result of fraud.

For more information, head here.

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