FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 13, 2006
Alzheimer's Foundation of America to Hold National Memory Screening Day
NEW YORK, NY— In light of new evidence that many people are ignoring memory problems, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) is urging Americans not to let fear, stigma or other reasons stand in the way of checking out these concerns—and to instead take advantage of free memory screenings and education during National Memory Screening Day on November 14.
“We can't emphasize enough how important it is to take action. Americans need to become comfortable with the idea of addressing their brain health, much the same way they would check out other issues with their bodies. This knowledge can lead to appropriate medical treatment and support services that can help improve quality of life,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA's chief executive officer.
Hall said the process is easy and convenient during National Memory Screening Day, an annual event sponsored by AFA since 2003. More than 600 sites in nearly all 50 states will provide free memory screenings and education about Alzheimer's disease, successful aging and local resources.
The face-to-face screenings consist of a series of questions and tasks, and take about ten minutes to administer by a qualified healthcare professional. They are not used to diagnose any illness, but could indicate whether someone should follow up with a complete exam and consultation with a qualified professional, he said.
Screening sites include Alzheimer's organizations, pharmacies at Kmart stores and other locations, doctors' offices, research clinics, houses of worship, and assisted living facilities. To locate participating sites, call 866-232-8484 or visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org .
National Memory Screening Day coincides with National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month in November, and this year comes during the 100 th anniversary of the discovery of Alzheimer's disease.
The annual event takes on increased importance this November in light of two recent surveys that show reluctance on the part of people with memory concerns to speak up about them.
According to a survey, I CAN: Investigating Caregivers' Attitudes and Needs, conducted by Harris Interactive for AFA, concern about stigma and denial of symptoms can delay a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease by more than two years (28.7 months) on average after symptoms appear. When caregivers are concerned about stigma, delay of diagnosis is even more severe, averaging 6 years (71.4 months).
Another survey , conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, AFA and the Center for Productive Aging at Towson University, found that 84 percent of 2,000 people surveyed during National Memory Screening Day last year had visited their doctor within the previous 6 months, but only 24 percent of those concerned about their memory shared their unease with their physician.
Last year, an estimated 20,000 people were screened during National Memory Screening Day. Among those who were screened, an estimated 10 percent had below-normal scores and were encouraged to follow up with a qualified healthcare professional.
The AFA suggests that anyone concerned about changes in memory or other intellectual functions should get screened. Warning signs include forgetfulness about names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, confusion, and erratic mood swings.
National Memory Screening Day's presenting sponsor is Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc.AFA is a New York-based national nonprofit organization that focuses on care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and their families. Its services include a toll-free hot line, counseling by licensed social workers, bilingual educational materials and a free magazine for caregivers. For more information, call (toll-free) 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org
Contact: Carol Steinberg