SUNDAY, Nov. 6, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Experts will offer free in-person memory screenings at more than 700 sites across the United States on Nov. 15 -- National Memory Screening Day -- as part of National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month.
The free service is sponsored by the Alzheimer's Foundation of America and is held each year to promote early detection and treatment of Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and to provide information about successful aging.
The non-invasive, confidential memory screenings will be administered by social workers, doctors and other health care professionals. Each screening takes about 10 minutes and consists of tasks designed to assess memory and other intellectual functions.
The most commonly used screening method is the Mini-Mental State Examination, which has been documented to be an effective screening tool for dementia.
These screenings are meant to detect a potential problem, not to diagnose any specific illness. People who have abnormal screening scores will be urged to undergo an extensive medical evaluation.
"Early detection enables persons to benefit most from available medications that can help slow the progress of symptoms, and psychological and social interventions that can ease the journey for families. And it enables individuals to exercise self-determination related to future care, and legal and financial issues," AFA board member Dr. Richard Powers, chief of the Bureau of Geriatric Psychiatry at the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, said in a prepared statement.
Existing drugs for Alzheimer's disease do not treat the underlying cause of the brain-robbing illness, which is still largely unknown. However, they can temporarily slow the progression of symptoms.
To find a local screening site, head to the National Memory Screening Day Web site.