FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 16, 2009
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America to Hold National Memory Screening Day During National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month
Actor Hector Elizondo Urges Americans to Get Screened
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NEW YORK, NY—As research continues to mount about the effectiveness of memory screenings and the benefits of early detection of memory problems, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) will hold its 7th annual National Memory Screening Day on November 17.
The event coincides with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, observed during November.
More than 2,000 sites across the country will offer free, confidential memory screenings and educational materials about memory concerns, successful aging and local resources. The face-to-face screening, conducted by a qualified healthcare professional, takes about five minutes to administer and consists of a series of questions and/or tasks.
Sites include doctor’s offices, senior centers and assisted living facilities, as well as 1,030 Kmart Pharmacy locations nationwide as part of the chain’s GoldK Day.
To locate a screening site, visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org or call 866-AFA-8484.
AFA believes memory screenings are appropriate for individuals concerned about memory loss or experiencing warning signs of dementia; whose family and friends have noticed changes in them; who believe they are at risk due to a family history of Alzheimer's disease or a related illness; or who want to see how their memory is now and for future comparisons.
“We must break through the enormous stigma and denial about memory problems that still exist today,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and chief executive officer. “It’s a message that the nation as a whole and aging baby boomers especially need to heed.”
Actor Hector Elizondo, whose mother had Alzheimer’s disease and who is serving as AFA’s honorary celebrity chairman, is also urging Americans to get screened.
“If you have memory concerns, burying your head in the sand doesn’t help you or your family,” Elizondo said. “Screenings are a great starting point to find out what what’s really going on and can lead to the care you might need—and the support your family might need.”
During National Memory Screening Day, screeners emphasize that the test results do not represent a diagnosis and encourage individuals with below-normal scores as well as those who still have concerns to pursue a full medical exam.
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.
Warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease include forgetting people’s names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, and confusion over daily routines.
More than 20 professional and trade groups have signed on as supporters of National Memory Screening Day this year, including the American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of State Units on Aging and the National Council on Aging.
In a report entitled “Memory Matters” released last December, AFA noted 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.”
Sponsors of the 2009 event are Forest Pharmaceuticals, as presenting sponsor; Novartis, silver sponsor; Eisai Inc., Pfizer Inc and Accera, remembrance sponsors; Elan Wyeth, empowerment sponsor; and CogniFit, community sites sponsor.
It is estimated that as many as 4.5 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.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York and made up of more than 1,200 member organizations nationwide that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional, practical and social needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses, and their families. AFA’s services include a toll-free hot line, 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