As part of National Memory Screening Day—an annual initiative of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA)—Marywood University in Scranton, Pa., will offer free, confidential memory screenings on Tuesday, November 3, 2015. Screenings will be held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Psychological Services Center in the McGowan Center at Marywood University.
Qualified healthcare professionals will administer the memory screenings and provide educational materials about memory concerns, brain health, and caregiving. The face-to-face screenings consist of a series of questions and tasks, and take five to ten minutes to administer.
According to the event organizer, Brooke Cannon, Ph.D., professor of psychology and clinical neuropsychologist, “Annual memory screenings, like regular physical exams, allow for identification of potential cognitive problems and monitoring of already existing impairment.”
Advanced clinical psychology doctoral students, trained and supervised by Dr. Cannon, will administer the screenings. While screening results do not provide a diagnosis, individuals with below-normal scores, or those who have concerns, are encouraged to pursue a full medical exam and additional cognitive testing.
AFA suggests memory screenings for anyone concerned about memory loss or experiencing warning signs of dementia; for those whose family and friends have noticed changes in them; for people who believe they are at risk due to a family history of dementia; or for individuals who simply want to see how their memory is now, as a baseline for future comparisons.
Such screenings are becoming increasingly important as the number of “Baby Boomers” turning age 65—the at-risk age group for Alzheimer’s disease—continues to climb. The federal government’s historic “National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease” urges a greater emphasis on both early diagnosis and education about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
An AFA survey of National Memory Screening Day found that 92 percent of those polled had never been given a screening by their primary healthcare provider, and 83 percent who were worried about their memory had not discussed their concerns with a healthcare provider.
“Brain health should be on everyone’s radar screen, especially as you age. Memory screenings are a first but critical step toward finding out where you stand now and what additional steps you might need to take,” said Carol Steinberg, president of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
Some memory problems, like those caused by vitamin deficiencies or thyroid issues, are readily treatable and even curable. Others might be due to Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Although there currently is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, early intervention can improve the quality of an individual’s life, available medications may help slow progression of symptoms, and diagnosed individuals can more readily participate in long-term care planning.
Warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease include forgetting people’s names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, confusion and personality changes.
Dubbed by many as a “silver tsunami,” the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple to 13.8 million by mid-century. Advanced age is the greatest known risk factor for the disease, which results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
For more information about National Memory Screening Day at Marywood University, please call the Psychological Services Center at (570) 348-6269.
(Inforamtion from Sherry Frable)