Please help spread the word about National Memory Screening Day on November 15, 2012. Each year the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing optimal care to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their families, holds National Memory Screening Day. This event marks the focal point of AFA’s national initiative to promote early detection and intervention for individuals concerned about memory loss as well as to educate the public about successful aging.
Memory screenings make sense for anyone concerned about memory loss or experiencing warning signs of dementia; whose family and friends have noticed changes in them; or who believe they are at risk due to a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or a related illness. Screenings are also appropriate for anyone who does not have a concern right now, but who wants to see how their memory is now and for future comparisons.
Some of the Warning Signs of Dementia Include:
- Trouble with new memories
- Relying on memory helpers
- Trouble finding words
- Struggling to complete familiar actions
- Confusion about time, place or people
- Misplacing familiar objects
- Onset of new depression or irritability
- Making bad decisions
- Personality changes
- Loss of interest in important responsibilities
- Seeing or hearing things
- Expressing false beliefs
It is important to know that the above warning signs may also be indicative of a number of other health issues, including everything from depression to disorientation. Warning signs may be useful in raising public awareness about Alzheimer’s disease; however, it is not wise to assume that the warning signs automatically mean the presence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Memory screenings are a significant first step toward finding out if a person may have a memory problem. A memory screening is a simple and safe evaluation tool that checks memory and other thinking skills. The following questions might help you decide if you should be screened. If you answer “yes” to any of them, you might benefit from a memory screening.
- Am I becoming more forgetful?
- Do I have trouble concentrating?
- Do I have difficulty performing familiar tasks?
- Do I have trouble recalling words or names in conversations?
- Do I sometimes forget where I am or where I am going?
- Have family or friends told me that I am repeating questions or saying the same thing over and over again?
- Am I misplacing things more often?
- Have I become lost when walking or driving?
- Have my family or friends noticed changes in my mood, behavior, personality, or desire to do things?
If a memory screening indicates possible problems, the person should follow up with a doctor or another health care professional as soon as possible for a complete medical evaluation. A person’s primary care provider may also recommend seeing a health care professional with expertise, such as a neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist. Follow up is important to identify the cause of memory problems.
Some memory problems can be readily treated, such as those caused by a vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems. Other memory problems might result from causes that are not currently reversible, such as Alzheimer’s disease. In general, the earlier the diagnosis, the easier it is to treat one of these conditions.
Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia illnesses can improve the quality of life. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease can learn more about the disease, including available and emerging medical treatments; get counseling and other social support in the community; address legal, financial and other planning issues; and have more of a say in decision making. Caregivers and other family members can take advantage of community services, which can help them feel better – physically and emotionally. They can discuss treatment, future care and other issues with their loved one, rather than having to make decisions on their own.
To participate in Memory Screening Day in Lockport, call The Dale Association at 433-1886 to schedule an appointment for a free, confidential memory screening. Appointments are now being scheduled for times between 1:00 and 4:00 pm.