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Memory Disorders Clinic

Memory Loss

Everyone has at some time misplaced their car keys or forgotten an appointment. Though annoying, these brief memory lapses are not of importance and do not interfere with our activities of daily living.

Memory loss that interferes with day-to-day living, however, is not normal at any age and reflects a disease process. At first, the changes may be minor and almost unnoticed. If the memory loss increases, changes may appear in personality, mood, and behavior. Confusion, irritability, restlessness, and agitation may be noted. Judgement, concentration, speech proficiency, and orientation may also decline.


When memory loss interferes with the ability to carry out activities of daily living, it is of concern and requires medical evaluation.


The Clinic

Marshfield Clinic Memory Disorder Clinic provides comprehensive evaluation of the complex problems of individuals with memory disorders along with recommendations for treatment. The clinic is staffed by neurologists, nurses, and neuropsychologists with specialized training and interest in quality health care for persons with a memory disorder. Specialists from other disciplines such as Psychiatry and General Internal Medicine are consulted as needed.


The Evaluation

Evaluation begins with a detailed history of the patient's current problems with memory and thinking, past medical history, and family health history. The presence of an informed relative or friend is essential for a thorough evaluation of the problem since the individual may forget important details.

This is followed by a comprehensive neurological examination. The examination includes an evaluation of strength, sensation, reflexes, and coordination. Gait and balance are also checked. A brief memory quiz will be done at this time along with observations of the individual's mood and behavior. Laboratory testing will be done to check for metabolic, hormonal, and electrolyte imbalances as well as infectious causes of cognitive changes. A computerized brain scan (CAT scan or MRI) may be performed to study the structure of the brain and determine if changes such as stroke or tumor have occurred that may be responsible for the memory disorder.


In some cases, a neuropsychological evaluation is ordered. This will help fully assess the individual's problems with memory or thinking. It is also helpful in evaluating the individual's mood. Depression, especially in older adults, may produce symptoms similar to those seen in individuals with a dementia. A complete physical examination with an internist is recommended. If the patient does not have a primary care physician, the Clinic can assist the patient in finding one.


After the evaluation is completed, the physician will meet with the patient, family, and caregivers to discuss the results of all of the testing. The diagnosis will be discussed at this time. When the cause of the memory loss is reversible, early identification and treatment may greatly improve the individual's mental status. If the condition is irreversible, the evaluation will determine the extent of the disease process and assist the family in maximizing the patient's function. Treatment may be available to slow the progression of the illness.


Educational materials and counseling regarding the disease process, treatment, and appropriate community resources will be provided.


If the individual is a candidate for any of the ongoing experimental drug trials being conducted at the Memory Disorder Clinic, this will be discussed with the patient and family.


Follow-up Care

The patient will generally be followed in the Memory Disorder Clinic at six to twelve month intervals. This allows the staff to establish and maintain close working relationships with both the individual and family.


Referrals are accepted from physicians, community agents, family members, or the patient themselves.


For more information, or to make an appointment, please contact:


Memory Disorders Clinic
Marshfield Clinic
1000 N Oak Ave
Marshfield WI 54449-5777
715-387-5350, 800-782-8581

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