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Trisha Torrey

Got Memory Problems? Free Screenings Tuesday

By November 9, 2012

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Screening tests are sometimes controversial, depending on who's talking about them and who's giving them. If you ask your doctor about screening tests your doctor might order (and perhaps even make money from) then they are a great idea! If you ask a doctor about screening tests he or she doesn't order him or herself, like the ones given in churches and community centers, then you'll be told they are considered "overtesting."

And yes -- I understand that concept of overtesting and buy in. I do think we get tested too much, and it takes its toll on both our bodies AND our wallets.

That said, I also understand our more patient point-of-view and that is -- we want peace of mind. The reason we patients are willing to undergo tests we may not really need is because we want to KNOW. If we KNOW, then we sleep better at night, even if we learn bad news. Because at least we KNOW.

So when this piece of information crossed my desk, I wanted to share it -- because a memory screening test holds special meaning to me. In 2009, my mother died from Alzheimer's disease, almost 12 years after she was diagnosed. It was a very loooong good-bye.

This year, November 13th is National Memory Screening Day. It's a day when you can get your memory tested by people who can let you know whether your "lost" keys are really lost, or just forgotten. They can help you better understand steps you can take to keep your memory sharp. They can take a look at where your brain is -- and steer you in the right direction to keep it working in a healthy way. No more question marks.

Coincidentally, I'm reminded of an email I received just last week from a professional patient advocate. She had been hired to help a woman's family find resources for her. The woman had been diagnosed with dementia, but through a series of important questions and tests, the advocate got the woman a second opinion. They discovered that her dementia was caused by Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, or NPH - a treatable condition that mimics Alzheimer's.

If you have worried at all about whether you are developing any form of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, or just trouble keeping track -- then link to the National Memory Screening Day website, look up the locations for the screenings, and visit them next Tuesday. They have some good information about how the screening works, and what the results mean listed at the website, too.

Try not to forget.

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Photo © National Memory Screening Day

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