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March 5, 2021

The Importance of Memory Screening

Your brain is one of the most important parts of your body.  Like your checkup for vital measures such heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, memory screening should be part of your health regimen.  It is especially important for those who have experienced memory loss or are 65 years or older.  Memory screening determines if a further diagnostic evaluation is necessary.  It enables you and your physician to take a proactive approach to your brain health.

Memory screening is an assessment tool that helps determine if you are at risk for a memory problem or other thinking skills. It typically involves a series of questions and/or tasks designed to test your memory, thinking ability, language and other intellectual functions.  It usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes.  After the screening, the administrator reviews the results with you.  If memory screening results show signs of cognitive decline, it is important to determine the cause of the problem by scheduling a diagnosis with your doctor.  

What are the benefits of early memory screening?

Initially, early memory screening can provide a baseline score for future testing.  A subsequent diagnosis might eliminate anxiety for those who fear their memory loss is a sign of dementia.  For example, thyroid irregularity, a vitamin deficiency, depression, lack of sleep, dehydration or the side effects of medication can all affect memory and cognition. 

On the other hand, the knowledge gained from early detection helps you take charge of your brain health, and allows you to make lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, that may impact your memory.  In addition, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) states that “early detection of mild cognitive impairment may afford a person the opportunity to take advantage of treatments that may slow the changes in memory and thinking skills or participate in a clinical trial.”

Why not try a memory supplement like those advertised on TV?

Taking a pill may seem tempting to address a real or perceived memory problem.  Unfortunately, as a supplement, it is not regulated or evaluated for effectiveness by the Food and Drug Administration.  Furthermore, according to Consumer Reports, “there’s virtually no good evidence that such products can prevent or delay memory lapses, mild cognitive impairment, or dementia in older adults.”   

Where can I get a memory screening?

The AFA has an online memory screening test, which gives people an easy way to challenge their brains on a regular basis.  It only takes a few minutes.  The AFA also provides a memory screening over Zoom or by phone.  Individuals can use this form to request an appointment.

Locally, in the Tallahassee and Big Bend Area, you can get an in-person memory screening at the Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Memory Disorder Clinic.  The screening is free and takes about 15 minutes.  In addition, the administrator will likely ask you questions about what changes you’ve noticed, discuss relevant resources, and potentially facilitate a referral to see a doctor at a later date.  The Clinic is located at 1401 Centerville Road, Suite 504.  It is in the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital building.  For further information, contact Sonnie Mayewski at 850/431-5002 or email her at

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