It took Connie Stone’s father too long to figure out his mother was suffering from the onset of blindness.

“I remember my father said if only he had looked at his mother’s checkbook, he would have known how much trouble she was having,” says Stone, a financial planner in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Her grandmother’s tortured scrawl offered a telltale sign -- even when she couldn’t (or didn’t) want to convey her struggles verbally. “It can be kind of a litmus test to see if somebody is either having difficulty physically or cognitively.”

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