The Importance of Alzheimer’s Memory Screening

The Importance of Alzheimer’s Memory Screening

If you or someone you love is concerned, or maybe just curious, about Alzheimer’s disease, a simple memory-screening test may be what you need.

“What we find is that because of a lot of the stigma of Alzheimer’s disease, the denial and the fear of it, people are not talking to their doctors about memory problems they might be having,” said Carol Steinberg, executive vice president of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

Every year during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in November, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America sponsors a National Memory Screening Day. This is done at participating sites, including Homewatch CareGivers’ locations, which offers dementia home care to those in need. Nov. 15, 2011 was National Memory Screening Day.

“The test takes five minutes,” said Bill Freshwater, owner of the Homewatch CareGivers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “Then we score the test and give it to them in an envelope that they can take to their doctor.”

Mr. Freshwater said his location is able to provide screening tests year round with the supplies they receive from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

Community sites around the country also set up memory screenings and people can do the simple test at churches, senior centers, libraries, and hospitals.

Ms. Steinberg said that anyone could take the test. “There might be a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or they might want to check now for future comparison,” she said. “It’s free, non-invasive and the results do not represent a diagnosis. We encourage a full medical evaluation because it might be something else that is treatable.”

In fact, Ms. Steinberg said that some people have come to a screening and followed up with their doctor and found that their symptoms turned out to be a vitamin deficiency or something else. “Then their fears of Alzheimer’s disease were mitigated,” she said.

The foundation also hears from people who took their screening results to their doctor and were able to get early treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. “We got a note last year that said, Thank goodness for screening day,” she said. Ms. Steinberg added that sometimes just the posters about screening day could spark an overdue conversation among friends and family to seek medical care for memory problems.

The National Memory Screening Day website has a list of questions to ask to determine if you or a loved one is in need of the test. The screening test is also described in detail on the site, and all results are confidential.

For more information visit the: Alzheimer's Foundation of America

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