FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 12, 2012
Memory Screenings Edge into Mainstream on National Memory Screening Day
NEW YORK, NY— On November 13, the Waterville Library in Waterville, OH, the Peace of Christ Parish in Rochester, NY, and Sykes’ Restaurant in Kalispell, MT will be offering the public more than their usual wealth of books, spiritual sanctuary and lunch, respectively. In addition, healthcare professionals will provide free, confidential memory screenings and educational materials about memory concerns and brain health as part of National Memory Screening Day (NMSD), an annual initiative of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA).
Evidence that memory screenings are moving more into the mainstream, these three venues represent some of the more nontraditional sites across the nation that are holding screenings on NMSD on November 13 or another day during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in November.
AFA, a national nonprofit organization, introduced the memory screening initiative in 2003. Local screening sites from the onset have primarily been doctors’ offices, hospitals, Alzheimer’s agencies, home care agencies and long-term care facilities; prominent institutions participating this year include the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, AZ and the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute in Tampa, FL, for example.
More recently, nontraditional sites have joined the bandwagon, and are among the 2,500 NMSD sites on board this year. An increasing number of traditional and nontraditional venues are also holding screenings throughout the year as an outgrowth of NMSD.
“We’re seeing communities rally around this issue. It reflects a growing sense that this heartbreaking disease is so big, we must all be in this together,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO.
“We are counting on local organizations to help bring memory concerns into the mainstream,” Hall said. “While it may seem unconventional for a healthcare professional to provide a memory screening at a community venue like a library, a house of worship or even a shopping mall, a decade of hands-on experience in testing hundreds of thousands of people through AFA’s memory screening initiative has made clear that these tools are an effective intervention—and can ultimately change people’s lives.”
On NMSD, qualified healthcare professionals administer the face-to-face screenings, which consist of questions and tasks, and take about five to ten minutes. The results are not a diagnosis, but can indicate whether someone should follow up with a healthcare professional.
AFA suggests memory screenings for anyone 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 dementia; or who want to see how their memory is now and for future comparisons.
Among the nontraditional sites, 42 libraries in several states will be collaborating with health-related agencies to offer screenings this year. For the first time, ten of 11 libraries in the Brazoria County Library System in Texas—all except a very small one—will host 14 free screenings and a speakers’ bureau on NMSD or throughout the month. Volunteer nurses and social workers will administer the screenings.
“It’s a lot less threatening to say, ‘Let’s just go to the library.’ It’s a friendly, welcoming environment without the stigma of the health care system that frightens so many people,” suggested Tom West, the library system’s adult program coordinator.
Brenda Mauster, founder of Gathering Place Interfaith Ministries, Angleton, TX, approached the library system about holding screenings as part of the agency’s year-long initiative to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease in this rural area.
“I hope people who find out about [the screenings] will be encouraged if they have noted a cognitive deficit in their parents or spouse to do something about it instead of putting it off,” she said.
In addition, the public can find screenings at independent pharmacies and retail chains nationwide. All 922 Kmart pharmacies nationwide will provide memory screenings, as well as blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) screenings, on November 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. And nearly 50 Fred Meyer stores in Alabama, Idaho, Oregon and Washington offer screenings every day by appointment year-round.
Among houses of worship, All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, OK will be doing screenings for the second time this month, on November 14 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. At its event last week, 17 people, all aged 65 or older, were screened; of them, five were referred to their physicians for follow-up exams.
“Realizing the impact of the silver tsunami on the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia, we think it’s important for people to know how they stand with their memory. We want to relieve their worries or refer them on to their physicians,” said Nancy Wilder, the church’s parish nurse whose parents both had Alzheimer’s disease.
NMSD marks its 10 th anniversary as the nation is focusing increasing attention on the escalating incidence of the brain disorder as the population ages. The federal government’s recently-released first National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease urges both a greater emphasis on early diagnosis and more education about dementia.
Fueling the concern that memory problems are not being addressed, an AFA survey of NMSD participants in 2010 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.
Currently, as many as 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Warning signs include forgetting people’s names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, confusion and personality changes.
To find a screening site, visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org or call (Toll-Free Helpline) 866-232-8484.
In 2012, more than 30 leading professional organizations, including the American Academy of Neurology, are supporting NMSD. Silver sponsors are Accera, Inc., Forest Laboratories, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Senior Helpers.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 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 counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free helpline, e-mail, Skype, and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-232-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.
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Contact: Carol Steinberg
Alzheimer's Foundation of America 866.232.8484