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Nov. 2, 2007  Communique

Are losing the car keys, misplacing a coffee cup or leaving the garage door open normal signs of aging or indicators of more serious problems?

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs are used to fielding such questions. Their answer is to encourage a low-cost memory screening and psychiatrist consultation to make the call.

“The screening helps identify if any reported problems are consistent with normal aging forgetfulness, if follow up is recommended in a year, or if a more immediate, comprehensive evaluation needs to occur,” said Michael Kenny, director, CU Aging Center.

Memory problems are one of the primary complaints among older adults. Introduced a year ago, the CU Aging Center’s Memory Clinic helps people more than 55 years old determine if they are normal or if there are indications of serious problems, including Alzheimer’s disease. Since opening, the clinic has screened about 200 people.

Screening costs are on a sliding scale from $5 to $50 depending on income. The screening is 45-60 minutes long and is conducted by graduate students in clinical psychology with specialties in geropsychology.

A staff psychologist reviews the results with clients immediately following the test.

“The client gets a copy of the report. Depending on the results, recommendations can be made for more comprehensive testing. If problems with depression or anxiety are present, referrals for counseling can be provided,” Kenny said.

Anyone 55 years or older who is experiencing any of the following problems should get screened:

  • Concerns about memory loss
  • Difficulties with daily responsibilities due to memory problems
  • A family history of Alzheimer’s disease or memory problems
  • Changes in behavior, personality, mood, or work habits
  • Misplacing important items, forgetting medications, getting lost, substituting one word for another, or making financial errors

If interested, clients can also participate in research by signing up for a self-administered computerized memory screen that will be used in primary care settings.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 471-4884 ext. 161.

The CU Aging Center is a non-profit community clinic specializing in addressing daily living challenges, social problems and mental health needs unique to older adults. Assessment, treatment, and consultation services are provided for adults 55 years or age and older, their families, and other service agencies. The clinic operates in association with the Clinical Geropsychology Ph.D. training program at UCCS.