AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - In recognition of Alzheimer's Awareness Month, Texas Tech is encouraging locals to participant in memory screenings.
On Nov. 15, about 70 people participated in Texas Tech's National Memory Screening Day, which pharmacy and medical students hope will help those 65 or older tackle early onset symptoms that could lead to Alzheimer's.
Each screening consisted of a series of mathematical and short term memory challenges and if someone does not pass a screening, it is not a diagnoses of the disease.
Instead, it helps determine if it's necessary for a patient to further blood work and tests to identify some of the underlying problems impacting cognitive activity.
"Participants will be taken to a private room and the students will conduct the screening, each takes about 15 to 20 minutes." Texas Tech Pharmacist, Jacy Malone said. "The screening isn't any kind of diagnosis but we send the results to one of the doctors here and if patients need to follow up with him they can."
Although there are some studies that suggest Alzheimer's can be linked to genetics, the biggest trigger for the disease is age.
According to Texas Tech's Doctor Ravindra Bharadwaj, the older population is more likely to suffer from thyroid problems and heart conditions, which could affect the brain.
So, these screenings are to help patients tackle other problems to keep dementia at bay.
"It's going to be an epidemic in a few years as our baby boomers are aging," Bharadwaj said. "So, we have to get ready with our resources to provide the help to these people. Otherwise, there will be a big crisis in the health system."
Even if there is no cure for memory loss at this time, Bharadwaj said it's important to help individuals recognize a problem so they can make important decisions now before symptoms set in.
"They can do it now rather than wait too long when they are not able to understand things and they can not make their life decisions," Bharadwaj said. "We want our older population to make their own decisions, what to do when they get sick, if they would like to spend time in a nursing home or what their preferences are. So, this is the right time to recognize what is wrong."
For more information about the schools clinic and available screenings you can visit their website.