Coming up in the month of November, there will be free memory testing at many locations throughout the U.S. Research shows that the most sensitive indicator of memory change is an individual’s own sense of alteration in their cognition. We are able to sense a change in ourselves before other’s notice it or maybe we’ve been covering it up and not talking to anyone about it….
It is estimated that less than half of all people affected by Alzheimer’s disease or other type of dementia have been diagnosed. A dementia diagnosis is life-changing for the person and their family members – knowing the correct diagnosis, as early as possible, can support a better future with more choice and dignity.
I frequently get asked, why get tested if there is no cure/treatment for Alzheimer’s disease?
There are many benefits to early diagnosis – for instance….
Really, wouldn’t you want to know so you could talk with your family about your wishes, be involved in making plans, getting your legal papers organized, getting your finances organized, making sure you started those conversations with those you love?
Delaying testing leads to problems that can be avoided. Not every type of memory change is due to Alzheimer’s disease. There are many different causes of memory change and getting tested can be the first step to talking to getting additional testing as needed to obtain the correct diagnosis. Some changes in cognition are due to reversible conditions - that would be important information!
Putting off testing and a diagnosis until the symptoms are advanced results in less time to ask questions and absorb important information and ultimately less choice and less dignity.
Time to educate yourself and your family about your diagnosis. There will be many questions to answer. Are there people who can assist you? Are there support groups that can be helpful? Are there classes that would be useful? Are there new and innovative care ideas?
Time to review resources and choose care choices. As you and your family need a partner for care, where can you find options that offer choice and dignity? Good care is not always that easy to find! There are many types of care options out there and it can take time to search for various options.
Advanced planning while you have time to review all the choices. Meeting with legal advisors takes time and often several consultations. There are several important documents to prepare each with significance.
Early diagnosis can give you an opportunity to participate in research trials and to be an advocate – these are valuable experiences that can benefit you and also allow you to contribute to future advances in care and treatments.
Screening for memory changes is free, brief and confidential. You’ll be asked a few questions to assess memory, language and problem solving. Memory screening will not give you a diagnosis but could be the first step towards getting an additional evaluation and important information.
Check with your local Senior Center, as well as local Assisted Living and other types of care centers for dates for free memory screening. There is also a website that can help direct you to location for memory screening: www.nationalmemoryscreening.org.
If you work in Assisted Living and want
To make your dementia care program even better,
Or if you need assistance in
Planning care for a loved one,
E-mail or call me for a free consultation
Have a great day!
Anne Ellett, N.P., M.S.N.