As federal officials and other experts work toward developing the first-ever national plan that will address the growing crisis of Alzheimer's disease, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) is encouraging Americans to take their own steps to be proactive about memory health by taking advantage of free memory screenings during its National Memory Screening Day (NMSD) on November 15.
Held during National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, the event this year will involve about 2,500 sites that will provide confidential memory screenings and distribute information about memory problems, successful aging and resources. Sites include Alzheimer's agencies, senior centers, libraries, long-term care residences, home care agencies, hospitals, doctors' offices and pharmacies, including the entire chain of Kmart pharmacies nationwide. To locate a site, visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org  or call 866-AFA-8484. AFA has championed community memory screenings since 2003 for people who have memory concerns, a family history of Alzheimer's disease or who want to check their memory now and for future comparison. Many past participants have indicated that the screenings mark the first time they are discussing memory concerns, despite recent visits to their doctors.
Underscoring the need for greater attention to Alzheimer's disease are studies that show general practitioners miss about half of dementia cases. As well, with advanced age the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, which currently affects 1.5 million Americans, the incidence is increasing dramatically in line with aging baby boomers. Recently AFA strongly urged that the current efforts toward early detection, including a public service campaign to drive proper diagnosis and treatment, and inclusion of cognitive screening as part of the new Medical Annual Wellness Exam.