LIFEWAVES: Memory screening helps seniors

Misplacing things more often? Forgot where you are or where you’re going? Trouble recalling words or names in conversation? It may be time for a simple memory screening.

Expressions of Enumclaw Executive Director Linda Nickolisen said when it becomes more than, “I forgot my keys,” it might be time to set up an appointment for a memory screening.

“If you remember, ‘I forgot,’ you’re OK,” Nickolisen said. “But if you can’t remember, then you may need help.”

Nickolisen said it’s also time for a screening when memory loss can lead to harm.

“When people start wandering and have no idea where they are or how they got there, that’s when it becomes scary,” she said.

Tuesday, Expressions was offering free memory screenings and encouraging anyone who is concerned about memory problems or who is interested in memory care to take the free, 5- to 10-minute screening.

But don’t think Tuesday was the only day for a screening. Expressions at Enumclaw offered the special session for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, but Nickolisen said the facility offers screenings by appointment year-long.

The quick, 11-question one-on-one oral examination, tests a number of areas rather than one skill. The test covers spacial relationships, deductive reasoning, cause and effect and short-term recall.

“One test does not diagnose,” Nickolisen said. “It’s just a screening.”

But memory screenings are a good tool and a good start if there are concerns. If screening results raise more concerns, those should be shared with a physician.

Keeping the brain active and healthy can help.

“For people who are aging we know brain cells can learn new tasks,” she said.

Nickelson suggests working crossword puzzles or trying Soduko. Learning a new language, or new words daily, are two good exercises. Nickelson also suggests learning to cook, garden, yoga or ballroom dance – anything new or different to what you currently do.