Dementia Screening Added To Wellness Visits
As patients go for their annual wellness visit, a wide range of health aspects are reviewed and tested.
“Part of the annual wellness visit is assessing things that put older adults at risk, so we look at nutrition, we look at self-care, homemaking care, transportation, financial and shopping,” said JoAnn Bresnahan, Essentia Health St. Joseph’s-Brainerd Clinic RN.
During the visit, it has always been routine to have the patients fill out a questionnaire about their daily health and ask them about their memory.
“Just ask someone if they are having any memory problems or if they are noticing any changes in their memory,” Bresnahan said. “Often times they are, a lot of people have comments that they’re forgetting names, but they recall them usually after a few minutes.”
Recently implemented, the wellness visits will now give a more direct dementia screening that takes about three to five minutes to complete.
“We ask them to remember three words and they repeat them back to us, and then we have them draw a picture of a clock set to a specific time,” Bresnahan said.
If the results of that screening are abnormal, they will be given an additional screening a few weeks later.
“It’s a little bit more involved, it takes about 15-20 minutes, kind of depending. We do provide some education at that point,” Bresnahan said.
Education and resources that will guide patients on what the next steps are.
“The goal is to get people hooked up with what they need and get people established with the care that they need prior to a crisis,” Bresnahan said.
It’s also a preventative measure that is available to everyone.
“The annual wellness visit is a no co-pay service from Medicare, so it is free to the patient for their preventative wellness screening every year.”
This time of year, Essentia sees a higher number of patients coming for their screening as they prepare to head down south for the winter.
“Make sure that they know they can call the Minnesota senior linkage line when they are in Arizona or Florida and find out where they go for resources,” Bresnahan said.
The dementia screenings are now a standard at all Essentia Health clinic locations.