Go to WebMD.com, the leading health website in the United States, and the first thing you will see is the headline:
“How One Town May Help to Cure Alzheimer’s”
The town referenced is none other than Columbus, which hopes to become the first city to screen every senior for memory loss.
The article features people who recently attended a “Meet the Memory Doctor” town hall at the Columbus Memory Center at 7196 N Lake Dr., including 74-year-old Judy Culbertson who described getting lost when she goes to the grocery store.
“Then I call somebody and they tell me which way to go,” the local resident is quoted as saying. “It’s scary.”
Dr. Jonathan Liss, the center’s founder, launched the “Columbus Memory Project” in April with the full support of Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who held a news conference for the announcement.
Over a three-year period, every resident 65 or older will be offered a free test designed to give them a “memory number” as a baseline understanding of his/her memory health, according to Liss. Additionally, individuals 55-75 years of age will be able to submit a confidential DNA sample, via free cheek swab kits, through GeneMatch, a program of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry.
Tens of thousands of copies of Liss’ self-help booklet, “Living Well: A Guide for Preserving Independence with Senior Moments, Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease,” will be distributed without charge throughout the community.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson has said the city will help to educate the community about the project through public service announcements and free wellness checks.
So far, Liss has conducted two town hall meetings, screening about 1,700 people. The most recent event was held Friday, drawing about 100 people to the center for information.
In an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer, Liss said he is excited by the national exposure on WebMD.
“I have said that Columbus will become the world leader in Alzheimer’s outreach and prevention,” he said. “This type of exposure begins to turn this dream into reality.”