Screenings intended to detect early memory loss

By: By Natalie Davis - ndavis@ansonrecord.com

Anson County Council on Aging offered free detection of memory problems Nov. 28 as part of the National Memory Screening Program at Grace Senior Center.

“There are several tests that can be performed, but the one I’ve done is a series of questions to gauge memory, language and thinking skills,” said Wanda Talbert, in charge of the screenings.

“The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America presented the National Memory Screening Program to our agency several years ago and we’ve been providing the memory screening,” she said. “Our agency has seen firsthand how the disease is on the rise more than ever now, not just in Anson County but everywhere.”

Talbert said that 17 screenings were performed that day.

They also provide educational materials about memory concerns, brain health and caregiving. The face-to-face screenings consist of a series of questions and tasks, and take five to 10 minutes to administer.

“The memory screenings are a significant first step towards finding out if a person may have a memory problem,” Talbert said. “There is no certain age, but if there those that have a concern about their memory can be screened.”

Talbert said that the screening is free, confidential and the results are given before the person being screened leaves.

“The memory screening gives those that are screened a piece of mind, always reminding those that are screened that it’s just a screening , not a diagnosis,” she said. Those who still have concerns are encouraged to pursue a full medical examination.

The overall goal of the screenings is early detection, she said, adding that the screenings can now be ongoing, but only provided once a year.

The AFA suggests 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 due to a family history of dementia; or who want to see how their memory is now and for future comparisons, according to a press release.

Such screenings are becoming increasingly important as the number of Baby Boomers turning age 65 — the at-risk age group for Alzheimer’s disease — continues to climb.

The federal government’s historic “National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease” urges a greater emphasis on both early diagnosis and education about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

“The program is a wonderful tool for our county, and our agency will continue to provide it to those that want and need it,” Talbert said.

By Natalie Davis

ndavis@ansonrecord.com