Here at Seniors Helping Seniors in-home care we have a quarterly in-person caregiver meeting. Each time we include an educational topic, often those topics relate to dementia as many of our clients are on a dementia journey. This spring, as we planned our agenda, we hit upon a "grand idea." We are always promoting brain health and early detection for dementia. What if we were all screened for memory loss? Each one of our office and caregiving staff, having been through the process, could then freely share their experience with others. What better way to lead than by example? We invited some area experts and even expanded our invitation list to area seniors outside our own company. The result was covered by Hometown News writer, Brittany Mulligan.
Early dementia intervention makes a difference
BREVARD COUNTY — A senior organization polled its employees to see how many would take a memory screening test, and just over 50% of them said yes.
This number is huge, according to Seniors Helping Seniors Owner Jennifer Helin, because normally less than 20% of the senior population would agree to such a test.
With a stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, Mrs. Helin wants to stress the importance of early intervention.
One way in which she could help bring about more awareness was by teaming up with Hibiscus Court senior living, Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation and the Merritt Island Medical Research to put on an event that will include memory screenings and information about dementia.
The event was recorded and shared to Senior Helping Senior’s YouTube and Facebook pages.
“I was so thankful because we had so many organizations come together to do this,” Mrs. Helin said, “and I think we all got a kick out of each because we’re on the same page of wanting to get folks tested early and to get that stigma away from people being tested.”
Joshua Mabry represented Merritt Island Medical Research and spoke to participants about what dementia is, how it starts in the brain, what current medication can do to help and how certain lifestyles can lower your risk of symptoms.
“It was a really informative talk and gives hope, because it’s such a horrible disease that has a bad stigma, and nobody wants to talk about it,” Mrs. Helin said. “Let’s find out early so we can do something about it. We can’t stop it, but we can slow it down.”
Merritt Island Medical Research is offering a free memory screening and blood test that can provide 95% accuracy to whether the subject is predisposed or not for dementia.
Mrs. Helin explained that the blood test is part of the Trailblazer-ALZ 3 study, which tests for a protein called P-tau. She added that this can be a sign of changes in the brain before there are any thinking or memory problems.
The topic of dementia is “near and dear” to Mrs. Helin, who had an aunt suffer from it. She recommends adults as young as 50 years old to get a baseline for their memory and follow up with screenings annually with their primary care physician.
If interested in participating the Merritt Island Medical Research trials, visit mimresearch.com/current-clinical-trials.