Alzheimer's Foundation of America Memory Screening Day Garners Widespread Support of Leading Professional Groups

November 15 Event Initiative Offers Education, Road to Diagnosis

NEW YORK, Sept. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In testament to the value of community-based memory screenings, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) today announced that more than 30 leading professional organizations are supporting its annual National Memory Screening Day that will be held this year on November 15.

The announcement comes on the heels of a report released earlier this week by Alzheimer's Disease International that found that "perhaps as many as 28 million of the world's 36 million people with dementia have yet to receive a diagnosis, and therefore do not have access to treatment, information, and care."

Coinciding with National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month in November, AFA's National Memory Screening Day offers free, confidential memory screenings and is aimed at promoting early detection of memory problems and appropriate intervention.

The results of the face-to-face screening, which consists of a series of questions and tasks, do not represent a diagnosis, and screeners encourage those with abnormal scores as well as those who still have concerns to pursue a full medical exam.

Supporters of this year's event include the American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, the American Geriatrics Society, the American Pharmacists Association, Catholic Health Association of the United States, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and the National Council on Aging, as well as organizations that represent other degreed professionals, direct care employees, family caregivers and long-term care organizations. For a complete list, visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org.

"Memory screenings are a valuable way to begin a conversation about cognitive health and start on the path toward proper diagnosis," said Eric J. Hall, AFA's president and CEO. "We must remove barriers now. Too many cases of Alzheimer's disease are left undetected, especially since treatments and support services can influence quality of life for countless families."

A 2009 article in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that general practitioners miss about half of dementia cases.

Further, an AFA report, "Memory Matters," noted that there is ample evidence that screening can improve case identification. "Screening is a safe, cost-effective intervention that can reassure the healthy individual, promotes successful aging and, when indicated, directs individuals to appropriate clinical resources," it said.

AFA surveys of past National Memory Screening Day participants have revealed that a large percentage had memory concerns but had not expressed them to healthcare professionals despite recent visits.

Last November, during the event, qualified healthcare professionals at approximately 2,300 sites nationwide gave screenings and educational materials to an estimated 60,000 Americans, and they provided educational materials about memory concerns, successful aging and resources to another 25,000 individuals who came in only to pick up information. Sites span all 50 states and include pharmacies, senior centers, Ys, houses of worship, assisted living facilities and doctor's offices.

AFA encourages adults with memory concerns, a family history of Alzheimer's disease or a desire to see how their memory is now and for future comparison to get screened.

Follow up with a clinician may reveal that the person's memory problems stem from a reversible condition such as a vitamin deficiency or thyroid problem, or from an irreversible disorder like Alzheimer's disease.

Early identification of Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia allows affected individuals and their family members to benefit from available treatments that can help slow progression of symptoms, as well as to plan for the future and access social services support.

It is estimated that as many as five million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, which causes loss of memory and other intellectual functions, and the incidence is expected to triple by mid-century in line with the nation's aging population. Advanced age is the greatest risk factor.

Warning signs of Alzheimer's disease: forgetting people's names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, and confusion over daily routines.

For information about National Memory Screening Day, including screening locations and how to sign up as a site, visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org or call 866-AFA-8484.  

Event sponsors are: Senior Helpers, as silver sponsor; and Accera Inc., Eli Lilly and Company, and Novartis, as remembrance sponsors.

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 hot line, 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-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

SOURCE Alzheimer's Foundation of America



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