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Lewis County General Hospital will offer screenings for memory problems

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County General Hospital next week will hold free screenings as part of a national initiative intended to help curb memory problems.

“Memory screening is important because it helps to identify individuals with memory problems,” Margaret Grant, the hospital’s director of social work, said in a statement. “Some memory problems are related to medical conditions that can be treated and the memory problem can be reversed, while other memory problems aren’t reversible but can be treated to slow down the progression of the confusion. The memory screening isn’t used to treat but to alert individuals if they need to seek further medical workup.”

Screenings will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 19 in the library on the second floor of the Medical Arts Building as part of National Memory Screening Day, an annual initiative of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

The face-to-face screenings consist of a series of questions and tasks and take five to 10 minutes to administer, according to a hospital news release.

“Brain health should be on everyone’s radar screen, especially as you age,” Carol Steinberg, president of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, said in a statement. “Memory screenings are a first but critical step toward finding out where you stand now and what additional steps you might need to take.”

Some memory problems, such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies or thyroid issues, are treatable and curable, while others may be a result of Alzheimer’s disease or similar dementia.

“Although there currently is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, early intervention can improve the quality of an individual’s life; available medications may help slow progression of symptoms and diagnosed individuals can more readily participate in long-term care planning,” the release said.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation suggests memory screenings for anyone who is 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 because of a family history of dementia or who wish to see how their memory is now and for future comparisons.

A screening is not a diagnosis, so people who score poorly or still have concerns afterward will be encouraged to get a full medical examination.

While the number of Baby Boomers 65 and older — the at-risk age group for Alzheimer’s disease — continues to climb, a survey of 2010 National Memory Screening Day participants found that 92 percent had never been given a screening by their primary health care provider and 83 percent who were worried about their memory had never consulted a doctor, the release said.

Warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease include forgetting people’s names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, confusion and personality changes.

According to the release, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple to 13.8 million by mid-century. Advanced age is the greatest known risk factor for the disease, which results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

For more information about National Memory Screening Day here, call Ms. Grant at 376-5496 or visit the website atwww.lcgh.net.

Information also is available by calling the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America at 1-866-232-8484 or visiting www.nationalmemoryscreening.org.

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