By Joyce Lee
Banking and medicine are two industries that have “little in common,” but their collaboration could advance the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, Penn Memory Center Co-Director Jason Karlawish wrote in a recent column.
The column, published in STAT News, highlighted the importance of the partnership between those who manage health and those who manage wealth in an initiative called “whealthcare.”
Advances in public health has made it possible for the average 65-year-old American to live for 19 more years. But with longer lifespans comes financial, as well as cognitive, challenges. Not only do older adults have to worry about ensuring the security of their financial future post-retirement, they also have to deal with age-related declines in memory and thinking skills.
And with the possibility of cognitive impairments caused by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, older adults might have to face the risk of needing long-term care and of being vulnerable to financial fraud, exploitation, and mismanagement.
A collaboration between the banking and the medical industries could change these prospects for older Americans.
“Our day-to-day use of our money provides signals of brain function that can be far more real-world and meaningful than the results of online cognitive tests and brain scans,” Dr. Karlawish wrote. “This is where the banking and financial services industries can help achieve our national “moonshot” goal of preventing Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.”
Tracking financial behaviors over time can not only help prevent financial fraud and exploitation – especially if something irregular is noted – but it could also serve as an early warning sign for the onset of cognitive problems. The question, though, is how.
At the conference on Aging, Cognition, and Financial Health at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, experts from the financial and medical industries discussed how financial systems could use surveillance, monitoring, and intervention to inform clients of signs of mismanagement or fraud.
Financial information could also be subjected to innovative methods in technology that predict if a person is likely to experience cognitive decline or become a victim of fraud.
Finally, sharing data across financial institutions could prevent scammers from taking advantage of victims’ multiple accounts. Philadelphia Fed senior industry specialist Larry Santucci described a “visionary proposal” for a system that collects alerts from across financial institutions. This could help both financial and medical advisers identify financial mismanagement or fraud, and cognitive decline, before they balloon into a more serious set of complications.
“That’s the vision of whealthcare,” Dr. Karlawish writes.