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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | March 12, 2009

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Calls on Florida Legislature to Support Re-Introduced Alzheimer’s Memory Screening Bill and New Resolution

TALLAHASSEE, FL - The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) today announced its strong support of two legislative initiatives—the re-introduction of the Alzheimer’s Memory Screening Bill (SB 260 and HB 589), which will establish a program to educate the public about screening for memory impairment and provide grants to increase screening sites throughout the state; and a new resolution that recognizes the devastating and far-reaching effects of Alzheimer's disease, honors family caregivers and healthcare providers of individuals with the disease, and encourages participation in AFA’s National Memory Screening Day.

The bill is being re-introduced by Senator Stephen R. Wise (R-5 th) and Representative Elaine J. Schwartz (D-99 th), and the resolution is being introduced by Senator Wise. AFA joined the legislators at a press conference to announce the bill and resolution and AFA’s support of the proposals.

“Memory screening often holds the key to unlocking early detection of memory problems, including reversible conditions as well as irreversible illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and chief executive officer. “The Wise-Schwartz bill and the Wise resolution are important steps toward addressing the rising incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and providing much-needed support and intervention in the state.”

Memory screening consists of a series of questions and/or tasks to check memory and other intellectual functions, and most tests take about five minutes to administer. The screenings are not a diagnosis, but can indicate whether a complete medical evaluation would be beneficial.

Memory screenings are one of the major focal points of AFA’s national initiatives. For the past six years, AFA has sponsored National Memory Screening Day annually in collaboration with community organizations to promote early detection of memory problems as well as Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and encourage appropriate intervention. This past November, qualified healthcare professionals at more than 2,200 sites nationwide—including about 190 sites in Florida—offered free, confidential memory screenings to an estimated 54,000 participants, as well as follow-up resources and educational materials about dementia and successful aging. This year, AFA will hold National Memory Screening Day on November 17. For more information, visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org.

Currently, Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 2.4 to 4.5 million Americans, including 500,000 individuals in Florida. It is a progressive disorder that attacks the brain's nerve cells, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Age is the greatest known risk factor.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization made up of 950 member organizations, including 69 in Florida, that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional, practical and social needs of families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses. AFA’s services include a toll-free hotline, counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine and professional training. For information call (toll free) 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484