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Heritage Hall North to host memory screenings Nov. 16

AGAWAM -- With memory concerns and successful aging major topics of concern for the aging population, especially as the first baby boomers turn 65 next year, the Heritage Hall North of Genesis HealthCare is answering the call by offering free, confidential memory screenings and educational materials about brain health on Nov. 16. The event is part of National Memory Screening Day (NMSD), an annual initiative that the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) hosts each November during National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month. Approximately 2,000 sites across the country will be participating. Heritage Hall North will provide the memory screenings at 55 Cooper St. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 821-0789. Qualified healthcare professionals conduct the face-to-face screenings, which consist of a series of questions and tasks to test memory, language skills, thinking ability and other intellectual functions, as a first step towards the detection of memory problems. The results do not represent a diagnosis, but they can indicate whether the individual should follow up with a primary care provider or other qualified healthcare professional. 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 suggests memory screenings for adults concerned about memory loss or experiencing warning signs of dementia; whose family and friends have noticed changes in them; or who believe they are at risk due to a family history of Alzheimer's disease or a related illness. Screenings also are appropriate for those who do not have a concern right now, but who want to see how their memory is now and for future comparisons. AFA has been championing the usage of memory screenings since it introduced NMSD in 2003. Most recently, it successfully advocated for inclusion of "detection of any cognitive impairment" in the annual wellness exam for Medicare beneficiaries in the new healthcare reform law. "Be proactive about your memory," said Eric J. Hall, AFA's president and CEO. "People need to understand that Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging. If you notice memory problems, don't be afraid to take steps to find out what's really going on. Available treatments and support services can improve quality of life."

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