FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 11, 2010
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America to Hold National Memory Screening Day
Influx of Aging Baby Boomers Emphasizes Importance of Event
NEW YORK, NY— With memory concerns and successful aging major topics of concern for the aging population, especially as the first baby boomers turn 65 next year, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is answering the call by offering free, confidential memory screenings and educational materials about brain health during its 8th annual National Memory Screening Day (NMSD) on November 16.
AFA holds the initiative each November during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month as part of its overall strategy to promote early detection of memory problems and appropriate intervention. Most recently, AFA successfully advocated for inclusion of detection of any cognitive impairment in the annual wellness exam for Medicare beneficiaries that takes effect next year.
Qualified healthcare professionals will conduct the face-to-face screenings at more than 2,300 venues nationwide, such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, senior centers, assisted living facilities, pharmacies and libraries—including, for example, the landmark New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Several sites in major cities will offer screenings in Spanish. In addition, all 1,006 Kmart pharmacies will offer memory screenings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. as part of the chain’s Senior Health Event.
To locate a screening site, visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org or call 866-AFA-8484.
The screening consists of a series of questions and tasks to test memory, language skills and other intellectual functions, and takes about five minutes to administer. The results do not represent a diagnosis, and screeners encourage individuals with below-normal scores as well as those who still have concerns to pursue a full medical exam.
“If you notice memory problems, don’t be afraid to take steps to find out what’s really going on,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and chief executive officer. “Our efforts to highlight the importance of being proactive about memory concerns and the value of early detection are resonating across the nation. We’re going to keep building on this momentum.”
Actor Hector Elizondo, AFA’s honorary celebrity chairman, is also encouraging people to get screened.
“Memory screenings can point you in the right direction. Take the results and start talking with your healthcare professional—sooner rather than later,” said Elizondo, whose mother had Alzheimer’s disease.
AFA suggests memory screenings for adults 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 also are appropriate for those who do not have a concern right now, but who want to see how their memory is now and for future comparisons.
In a report, “Memory Matters,” released in December 2008, AFA underscored the value of memory screenings, noting that current research supports screening as a “safe, cost-efficient intervention that can reassure the healthy individual, promote successful aging and, when indicated, direct individuals to appropriate clinical resources.”
Other AFA studies also support the need for earlier detection of memory problems. One survey showed that individuals waited as long as six years from the time they recognized symptoms of dementia to when they sought a diagnosis. In addition, a large percentage of past NMSD participants reported that they had memory concerns but had not expressed them to healthcare professionals despite recent visits.
Memory problems could be caused by Alzheimer's disease or other medical conditions. Some memory problems can be readily treated, such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems. Other member problems might result from causes that are not currently reversible, such as Alzheimer's disease.
It is estimated that as many as 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, which causes loss of memory and other intellectual functions. With age the greatest known risk factor, the incidence of the disease doubles every five years between 65 and 95.
Supporting the event this year are 25 major professional and trade groups, including organizations such as the American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the American Psychological Association and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
Forest Laboratories is the silver sponsor, and Novartis is the remembrance sponsor of this year’s event.
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a non-profit organization that unites more than 1,400 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include a toll-free hot line, educational materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.
Contact: Carol Steinberg