AMHERST, Mass. – The Northampton Senior Center and University of Massachusetts Amherst are encouraging members of the community to be proactive about memory health by taking advantage of free, confidential memory screenings and information about successful aging on Tuesday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the center, 67 Conz St., Northampton.
The screenings will be conducted by faculty and graduate students from the clinical psychology program at UMass Amherst.
The event is part of National Memory Screening Day, an annual initiative that the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) holds annually during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. More than 2,000 sites across the country will be participating.
“Memory screenings are useful to assure some persons that their thinking abilities are normal and to identify, for other persons, if more testing might be needed,” says Rebecca Ready, associate professor at UMass Amherst and licensed clinical neuropsychologist who will be overseeing the screenings. “It can be intimidating to engage in memory screening. Part of the process will be an opportunity to discuss questions and concerns about memory with knowledgeable persons. We hope to set your mind at ease and help persons learn more about memory and aging.”
The screenings consist of a series of questions and tasks, and take five to 10 minutes. Screening results are not a diagnosis, and individuals with below-normal scores or who have concerns are encouraged to pursue a full medical exam.
Some memory problems can be readily treated, such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems. Other memory problems might result from causes that are not currently reversible, such as Alzheimer’s disease. In general, the earlier the diagnosis, the easier it is to treat one of these conditions.
AFA urges anyone concerned about memory changes, at risk of Alzheimer’s disease due to family history or who wants to check their memory now and for future comparison to get screened. Warning signs of dementia include forgetting people’s names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, confusion over daily routines and erratic mood swings.
Currently, as many as 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and the incidence is rising in line with the swell of aging baby boomers. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years beyond age 65.
For more information on the memory screening, call 413/587-1228.