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Over 65? A Utah doctor advises an annual memory test



CALT LAKE CITY – For the first time, a leading group of brain doctors in the country recommends that everyone aged 65 and over receive an annual memory evaluation.

"Until now, it has been customary for doctors to ignore memory complaints. or at least look for memory issues. And many doctors think they should not look for such problems and do not know what to do when they find such problems, "explained Dr. Norman Foster, a professor in the Department of Neurology and a senior researcher at the University of Utah Brain Institute.

The Utah doctor, also an associate at the American Academy of Neurology, authored the organization's new guide, published last week.

According to the Academy, nearly 7% of people in the early 1

960s have mild cognitive impairment, while the condition affects 38% of people age 85 and older.

Foster said the Utah Department of Health is also launching a public awareness campaign urging those over 65 to ask their doctors for annual memory checks. [19659002] This campaign began in March, said Christy Russell, resource specialist at the Alzheimer's Disease Program and Utah-related health departments. Campaign information and resources can be found on the department's website at agewell.health.utah.gov.

Russell also encourages people under the age of 65 who have medical problems to receive memory evaluations, as serious memory disorders can be diagnosed at a younger age.

In the past, it was common practice for doctors to "just use their gut feelings to decide if someone had memory and thinking problems," Foster recalled.

But management recommends that they "go beyond that" using the standard three-minute test to determine if anyone has a problem causing memory loss.


Much can be done to improve their patients and improve the quality of their care.

-D-R. Norman Foster, Professor in the Department of Neurology


The standard test used in Utah asks people to repeat three words and then memorize them, draw a clock, put numbers and hands on the clock indicating the physician's time. wants and then repeats the three words, Foster said.

The Alzheimer's Association praised the leadership in a statement Wednesday, calling it "an important step in improving patient outcomes while inviting important discussions about cognitive problems that older people may not otherwise share." "

The association revealed in a report this year that, despite the" widespread awareness "of the benefits of early detection, only 1 in 7 adults say they receive regular memory evaluations.

The American Academy of Management's Guide to Neurology tells neurologists and other medical professionals what they should do if they find memory problems in their patients. Through the evaluation, doctors can work to identify conditions such as depression, side effects or major illnesses such as stroke or brain tumors, Foster said.

Assessment can help clinicians understand whether the underlying condition causes loss of patient memory, i.e. or if it is just part of the normal aging process. Even sleep disorders and mood can affect memory and thinking.

Other issues such as hearing loss and visual impairment can contribute to memory problems, Foster said. If these conditions are ruled out and the patient shows the first signs of a more serious brain condition such as Alzheimer's, the patient may know when to include his family and plan for the future. And the doctor can work to improve their quality of life.

For these doctors, "much can be done to improve their patients and improve the quality of their care," Foster said.

According to Foster, the recommendation means that the health community is overcoming "pervasive nihilism about memory problems and whether we can do something about them or know what causes them."

19659002] "And that's changed dramatically over the last decade, because we now recognize that we can identify the cause of significant memory problems or ways to determine whether or not someone has Alzheimer's disease, for example through a diagnostic study, "he said. [19659002] Doctors are increasingly recognizing that drugs often cause memory problems that go wrong with symptoms of Alzheimer's, Foster adds.

While treating conditions such as brain disease, tumors, stroke and multiple sclerosis is a priority for neurologists, Foster said, "This direction is the growing recognition that early diagnosis and interventions are much more effective. So I think things have changed, so we now know that one of our priorities as doctors is to identify and treat memory problems. "

To reduce the risk of memory loss, Foster said, people need to remain physically and socially active; make sure their blood pressure is "well controlled" by eating a good diet; prevention or control of diabetes; and stay up to date on new treatments and research on memory problems.


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