Local clinic to provide free memory screenings
If you or your loved ones have concerns about memory loss, Nov. 19 is a date you’ll want to remember.
On that day, Cornerstone Memory and Aging Care Clinic will offer free, confidential memory screenings and provide educational materials about memory concerns, brain health and caregiving. The screenings are being provided in conjunction with National Memory Screening Day, an annual initiative of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
“This is our fourth year participating, and we look forward to it every year,” said Dr. Chester Haworth, a neurologist for the clinic. “We do this free memory screening clinic to try to help patients who are having memory problems, and to help families come to grips with whether there is a memory problem and if something needs to be done about it.”
Screenings, which take about 10 minutes to administer, consist of a series of questions and tasks. A screening is not meant to be a clinical diagnosis, but merely an indicator that there could be a memory problem, Haworth said.
“It’s an indicator of whether more screening needs to be done,” he explained.
“We’re all very forgiving about memory difficulties with older folks — and some memory loss for older folks is normal — but there’s a line you cross over where it’s really not normal memory loss. This screening is to help distinguish between normal memory loss and abnormal memory difficulty.”
If someone being screened is found to have memory difficulty, the screener will recommend that the information be shared with the individual’s primary care physician.
“Then that physician will follow up and take care of whatever needs to be done,” Haworth said.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation recommends 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 because of a family history of dementia; or who want to see how their memory is now and for future comparisons.
Such screenings are becoming increasingly important as the number of baby boomers turning 65 — the at-risk age group for Alzheimer’s disease — continues to climb.
“(Alzheimer’s) is considered an epidemic at this point,” Haworth said. “There are 6 to 7 million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s, and within 10 years that number is probably going to double because of the aging population.”
Warning signs of Alzheimer’s include forgetting people’s names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, confusion and personality changes. Advanced age is the greatest known risk factor for the disease, which is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
Participation in Cornerstone’s annual memory screening has grown each year, from about a dozen participants in 2010 to about twice that many in 2011 and nearly 60 last year.
“We found a number of patients last year that needed to be evaluated further,” Haworth said. “We also had some who had been concerned about memory loss, but we found they did not have significant memory difficulty, and of course that’s very comforting to someone who’s been concerned about their memory.”
Haworth pointed out that there are a number of other possible causes of memory loss besides Alzheimer’s disease — another reason people should be screened.
“They’re all very subtle and can creep up on you, but they’re treatable and should be treated as soon as possible, before they become problems that can’t be reversed,” he said.
“The list includes such things as stroke, vitamin deficiency, head trauma and depression. Depression can look exactly like memory loss, and that’s very treatable and very common. So the first thing we do is try to discover exactly what is causing the memory loss.”
In addition to the memory screenings, Clare Bridge Memory Care of High Point will be on hand to provide refreshments, answer questions and schedule tours for families seeking assistance.
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As part of National Memory Screening Day, an annual initiative of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, Cornerstone Memory and Aging Care Clinic will offer free, confidential memory screenings on Nov. 19, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 1814 Westchester Drive, Suite 401.
To schedule an appointment for a screening, call 802-2080.
For more information about National Memory Screening Day, contact Debbie Dalton at (336) 471-0584 or firstname.lastname@example.org.