Thursday, October 29, 2015

Screening for memory loss

Last month my husband left $100 worth of frozen dog food in his trunk over the weekend. I went to feed the dog on Monday morning and the freezer was bare.

“Hon, did you pick up the dog food on Saturday?” I asked.

“Oh no!” my husband replied.

One memory mishap is not a reason for worry, but when do memory problems become a cause for concern?

Most of us have walked into a room only to forget what we’re there for or have difficulty remembering the name of the person we’re talking to at the grocery store. But what do you do when those instances become more frequent, when your spouse points out you’ve told the same story three times or when you never do remember the name of the person you were talking to?

Memory loss as we get older is a scary thing. According to the Mayo Clinic, some degree of memory problems, as well as a modest decline in other thinking skills, is a fairly common part of aging; it doesn’t necessarily mean the early onset of dementia.

Additionally, memory loss caused by such things as a drug reaction, depression, a vitamin B deficiency, a thyroid issue or a urinary tract infection can be reversible. Visiting your general physician is a great place to start.

Another resource is available during National Memory Screening Week, Nov. 1 to 7 this year.

The National Memory Screening Program is one of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s early problems, including 

Alzheimer’s disease, and to encourage appropriate intervention: medical treatments, social services and other resources. 

The Alzheimer’s Foundation believes that memory screenings are a significant first step toward early diagnosis.

For the past several years Senior Concerns has hosted Memory Day, offering free screenings for those who have concerns. They screen roughly 100 people with a brief nine-question test.

Wives bring husbands or visa versa, friends bring friends, daughters and sons bring parents, and many who live alone come by themselves, each for their own reasons.

The screenings are conducted by health professionals using a reliable, valid and efficient instrument to screen. The screening takes less than five minutes to administer to the individual and four minutes to interview the caregiver, if necessary.

Most individuals who are screened pass with flying colors. The few who do not are given a letter they can take to their physician noting their score on the test.

Screening results are confidential. It is up to the individual to follow up.

This year, Senior Concerns is partnering with in home-care agency Senior Helpers to conduct free memory screenings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wed., Nov. 4 at Senior Helpers’ office, 31255 Cedar Valley Drive, Ste. 303, Westlake Village.

Reservations are required and may be made by calling Senior Helpers at (805) 497-8370.

Some memory problems can be cured and many can be treated. Early detection can greatly improve the quality of life for the person who is diagnosed.

If you have concerns, call for a memory screening appointment today.

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Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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