Most people with dementia remain undiagnosed by their primary care providers, and families often fail to recognize the significance of early cognitive symptoms. In response, there has been a growing interest in screenings for memory problems.
National Memory Screening Day is an annual initiative spearheaded by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), in collaboration with community organizations that promotes early detection of memory problems as well as Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and encourages appropriate intervention. By popular demand, The Dale Association is offering an additional day of confidential memory screenings, as well as follow-up resources and information about dementia and 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.
These screenings are not a diagnosis, but can suggest whether a medical evaluation would be beneficial. Extensive study has indicated that these screenings are of value to individuals who participate in them. Unfortunately, with an issue as sensitive as Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses, there is often misinformation. AFA has provided us with some facts to address some of the more common misconceptions about memory screening and National Memory Screening Day. AFA believes that all individuals should be empowered to make informed decisions to better manage their own health, not discouraged from screening based on misinformation. Memory screenings are a significant first step toward finding out if a person may have a memory problem. Memory problems could be caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other medical conditions.
The memory screening tests made available to participating sites (including The Dale Association) are validated for effectiveness. It is important to keep in mind that NO medical test, whether for screening or for diagnosis, is 100% accurate and any test can produce “false positive” or “false negative” results. However, the memory screening test that AFA provides for National Memory Screening Day demonstrates 80 – 90% or higher probability of true positives and probability of true negatives in reviewed studies – similar to other established screening tests such as a mammography and Pap smear.
The face-to-face screening takes place in a private setting. The person who administers the screening reviews the results with the person who is screened, and suggests that those with abnormal scores and those with normal scores but who still have concerns follow up with a physician or other healthcare professional. The person who is screened receives the screening results to bring to his or her healthcare professional, as well as materials with information about memory issues and questions to ask healthcare professionals. Information about successful aging, including the benefits of proper diet, physical exercise, mental stimulation, socialization and stress management will also be available.
Please help spread the word about Memory Screening Day on April 18, 2013 from 1 – 4 pm. Appointments are now being accepted for a free memory screening; please call 433-1886 to reserve your spot.