Why You Should Spend 4 Minutes for an Annual Memory Screening

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What Is National Memory Screening Day?

National Memory Screening Day is a day chosen every year in the month of November to encourage people to get their memory checked. Similar to a blood pressure check to make sure your blood pressure is not too high, a memory screening is a quick way to see if there's any reason for concern about the functioning of your brain.

    November was chosen as a time to highlight memory screenings because it's National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Caregiver Month.

    This national initiative has been developed by the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.

    What's the Benefit of a Memory Screening?

    Why do this? There are many reasons, but here are three:

    • Are you (or a loved one) experiencing memory lapses? Early detection of Alzheimer's disease and other dementia is key. The medications that are approved by the FDA to treat Alzheimer's typically work better the earlier they are started in the process. This is because they may slow down progression of the disease or even improve cognition for a limited time.
    • Would you like peace of mind achieved through the knowledge that your memory is intact? Perhaps you have loved ones with dementia and have seen firsthand how it affects their lives. Getting screened may allow you to rest easy after performing well on a short memory screening.

    • Find out your baseline for your memory. Not worried about your memory? Great! It is still beneficial to have a baseline for how well your memory is functioning so that as time goes by, you will know if a change is occurring.

    If you want to learn more about why you should be screened, here are 12 Benefits of Early Detection in Alzheimer's Disease.

    What Does A Memory Screening Involve?

    A memory screening consists of taking a very short test that gives a quick snapshot of how well your brain is working. This test is administered by a physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, social worker, psychologist or another professional.

    In a private setting, you will be asked various questions that assess your memory, language skills and general cognitive skills.

    Memory screenings supported and used by the Alzheimer's Foundation of America include the following four tests:

    Will the Results of My Screening Be Shared with Anyone?

    No. Your memory screening results are confidential. This means that the practitioner will NOT report your results to anyone else. The test administrator will explain your results to you and provide you with a copy of them for your records.

    How Long Does It Take?

    The actual screening process will take approximately 3-5 minutes.

    Once the screening is completed, the practitioner will score the test and then share the results with you.

    What Should I Do after I Get My Memory Screening Results?

    If any concerns have been identified, you should follow up with your physician or with a memory clinic in your area. They can conduct additional testing to evaluate your cognition and health, and also to determine if there's a reversible condition that is affecting your memory.

    If your memory screening shows that your memory and cognitive abilities are intact, you should continue to live a healthy life and take steps (or continue the healthy habits you already have) to reduce your risk of developing dementia.

    Read more: 10 Practical Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

    Where Can I Get My Memory Screened?

    You can find a list of screening sites at the Alzheimer's Foundation of America's Community Memory Screening and Awareness-Raising Education: The Road to Early Detection and Care (AFA C.A.R.E.S.) site.

    Most of these sites will conduct screenings all year long. Some of them require an appointment for the screening, whereas others are drop-in sites. There are also some sites that will participate only for the annual screening day in November.

    If there are no sites near you, you can arrange an appointment with your physician to evaluate your memory, or request that this be included on your annual wellness appointment.

    Want to Conduct a Brief Screening at Home?

    If you're interested in testing your memory but prefer not to go to a screening site, you can try the SAGE test. It's a cognitive test that you can conduct at home and then bring the results to a physician after completion.

    Here's a link to, and information on, the SAGE test: What Is the SAGE test and Is It Accurate in Identifying Dementia?

    Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Accessed September 24, 2014. National Memory Screening. http://nationalmemoryscreening.org/screening-sites-info.php

    Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Accessed September 28, 2014. National Memory Screening Process. http://nationalmemoryscreening.org/memory-screening-process.php

    Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Accessed September 28, 2014. Who Should Be Screened? http://www.nationalmemoryscreening.org/memory-screening-who-should-be-screened.php

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