A test being administered with good intentions is splitting the community of organizations dedicated to researching, treating and ultimately curing Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, currently affects 5 million Americans and is projected to affect 15 million Americans by 2050. Causing memory loss, confusion and possibly 500,000 deaths per year, the disease is currently treatable but incurable. A number of organizations are understandably concerned with the disease, notably: the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, founded in 2002, based in New York and encompassing 1500+ organizations supporting patient’s caregivers and families; the Alzheimer’s Association, founded in 1980, based in Chicago and reputedly the largest nonprofit financial contributor to Alzheimer’s research.
As part of its “Wellness65+Wednesday” project, Rite Aid Corp. is offering free memory tests in its stores during the month of June 2014. Though all Rite Aid stores in 31 states and the District of Columbia offered the tests on June 4, 2014, testing will reportedly continue in some of the chain’s select stores throughout the month of June. This written 5-10 minute test, deemed by some an early warning of Alzheimer’s, is administered by Rite Aid pharmacists.
The test has the full support of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, but no support from the Alzheimer’s Association and sharp criticism from the medical community. The crux of the disagreement appears to be the ability of pharmacists to administer the test and assess its results in a non-medical setting, along with the unnecessary fear it might raise in people who do poorly on the test for non-Alzheimer reasons, such as fatigue or depression. Opponents of the test stress that it should be given in a medical setting by a professional trained in cognitive assessments. The test’s backers insist that it is not intended for diagnosis and is used to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and alert individuals of the possible need for a doctor’s visit for further tests.
DO’S AND DON’TS
DO take the free Rite Aid memory test.
DON’T treat the test results as an official diagnosis.
DO treat the test results as an indication of whether you need to see a medical professional for further testing.
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