Every time Becky forgets a word or misplaces her keys she gets scared that she has Alzheimer’s disease. At 63 Becky understands she is not considered a senior citizen and tries to laugh off her memory lapses as ‘senior moments’. Considering all that she has read about the rising rate of dementia, she wonders whether her memory glitches are normal or a foretelling of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Importance of Memory Screening
The National Institute of Health notes that incidence of dementia doubles every 5 years from ages 65 to 90 years. The Centers for Disease Control states that Alzheimer’s disease will quadruple by 2050 as more people survive long enough to be at a greater risk of dementia. Harvard Health notes that the diagnosis of dementia has increased as testing for the disease has improved. There are no studies that indicate the rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s is rising due to other factors. What studies have shown is that early detection of memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and their causality can affect better outcomes for patients.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America recommends annual “healthy brain checkups” as part of, or in addition to, our annual medical checkup. There are many common physical or mental underlying reasons for cognitive loss that are treatable if addressed. Health issues such as a thyroid irregularity, a vitamin deficiency, depression, lack of sleep, the side effects of medication, dehydration or malnutrition can all affect memory and cognition. If memory screening results show signs of cognitive decline it is important to determine the cause of the problem by scheduling a checkup with your doctor or other healthcare professional.
What is Memory Screening and Where Are They Performed?
Memory screenings called a Mini Mental Status Exam or MMSE are non-invasive. The test consists of basic questions which include remembering a few words or counting backwards in number groups. You may be asked to write a sentence or copy a line drawing. A memory test takes around ten minutes to complete and are administered by a qualified healthcare professional. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider if they perform memory screenings. At home or online memory tests are not recommended for accurately diagnosing memory loss or the cause of memory loss.
The National Memory Screening Program by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
provides free, confidential memory screenings throughout the country and has screened more that 4 million people to date.
Benefits of Early Memory Screening
Initially early memory screening can provide a baseline score for future testing. Benefits also include a lessening of anxiety for those who fear that their memory loss is sign of dementia.
Early diagnosis of dementia symptoms, or Alzheimer’s disease enables you to be proactive in your treatment, and life and care planning. It provides an opportunity to educate caregivers, address driving, cooking, gun ownership, medication administration and other patient and family safety issues.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America states that “early detection of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may afford a person the opportunity to take advantage of treatments that may slow the changes in memory and thinking skills or participate in a clinical trial.”
Who Should be Screened?
Early memory screening is beneficial for those who have experienced age-related memory loss or are 65 years of age or older. The National Institute of Health states “dementia screening in clinical settings is clearly appropriate for those whose risk is above a certain threshold, for example, persons older than the age of 75 years.”
Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider if you have experienced memory loss that appears unusual like getting lost in familiar places, forgetting how to do normal activities, or if your family or friends notice changes in your mood, behavior or personality. For a short list of questions to consider in determining whether you should schedule a memory screening visit alzfdn.org.
Memory Care at Green Hill
Green Hill provides a continuum of senior living services for aging individuals including those with memory impairment in a secure living environment with 24/7 security and monitoring.
Green Hill memory care support services assist with medication administration, provides three nutritious meals daily, and boast a specialized wellness program with a fitness center, and Club Connect – memory activities and programming with a recreation therapist in our assisted living residence.
This article is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.