U.S. Reps. Waters, Smith Mark Alzheimer’s Foundation 12th Annual Memory Screening Day
Jo-Carolyn Goode | 11/18/2014, 3:51 p.m.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.), House co-Chairs of the Bipartisan, Bicameral Task Force on Alzheimer's disease, commended the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) for holding its 12th annual Memory Screening Day on Nov. 18.
“National Memory Screening Day is a wonderful opportunity for individuals with memory concerns to get free and confidential screenings for Alzheimer’s disease and other problems affecting memory,” said Waters. “It is also an opportunity to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and promote the value of memory screening and early detection.”
“The AFA has remained steadfast in its commitment to provide access to these necessary evaluations, which assist Americans in forming their healthcare decisions surrounding Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. I have been fortunate to collaborate with members of AFA for many years to help raise awareness about this debilitating disease, and they have made great inroads in both informing the public and providing the needed resources for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Smith.
For over a decade, the AFA has held annual National Memory Screening Days in November during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. The AFA provides these safe, private screenings in collaboration with local organizations and healthcare professionals. Last year alone, there were 7,500 NMSD sites with over 250,000 individuals participating.
Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, with a 68 percent increase in deaths caused by Alzheimer’s in the last 10 years. Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative condition characterized by steadily deteriorating thinking and memory skills, currently has no cure.
Sharing the impact of the disease are the 15 million family members and others who act as caregivers and provide an estimated 17 billion hours of unpaid care—often relinquishing their jobs and other obligations to do so. Economic costs of unpaid care are estimated to exceed $200 billion annually. In California, nearly 600,000 have Alzheimer’s disease, with 1.5 million family members providing care. In New Jersey, an estimated 170,000 Garden State residents suffered from this form of dementia in 2014, and 443,000 caregivers provided unpaid care.
National Memory Screening Day is of great potential significance for the millions of Americans who may be unaware that they have Alzheimer’s disease, and have not yet developed a plan of action. On Nov. 18th, local sites are offering free, confidential memory screenings to the public, as well as education about memory concerns, dementia, caregiving and healthy aging. You can find the nearest screening site by entering your zip code here: http://www.afascreenings.org/.
“There is a persistent stigma associated with Alzheimer’s disease that prevents people from talking about it and taking action that could ultimately help improve quality of life,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. “We encourage people to seek early detection of memory issues on National Memory Screening Day by offering free, confidential screenings. A memory screening is much like any other routine health check-up – it’s non-invasive and takes just five to 10 minutes.”
Memory screenings are not used to diagnose illness. Rather, they are an indicator to determine whether a person might benefit from further examination by a qualified physician. These safe and cost-effective interventions can guide individuals to the appropriate resources before long-term complications, hospitalizations or misdiagnoses occur. Those with normal scores also benefit from screenings, as greater knowledge dispels fears, provides a baseline for future screenings, and promotes disease prevention.
“Early detection of Alzheimer’s disease improves treatment and helps individuals and families plan for their future,” said Waters. “I congratulate the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America for organizing the 12th annual National Memory Screening Day.”
“Memory screenings are not only the first step on the path to obtaining an accurate and early diagnosis, they also offer insight into brain health to all who participate,” said Smith. “I highly encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Smith and Waters also teamed up with other House members earlier this year to introduce HRes. 489, which calls on the U.S. to both engage in and lead a coordinated, international effort to advance work for the treatment, prevention and, perhaps, even a cure for Alzheimer’s disease as well as other forms of dementia.
HRes. 489 calls on the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to enter into negotiations with the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop a Global Alzheimer’s and Dementia Action Plan focused on areas such as research, clinical care, supportive services for patients and for caregivers, prevention and health promotion, public awareness and education.
For additional information on Alzheimer’s disease and memory screenings, visit: