Some people are reluctant to seek a memory evaluation because they are afraid or ashamed of the changes they are experiencing. Others simply do not recognize their memory changes. For many, memory changes may be considered an unavoidable part of aging or unnecessary to diagnose because “nothing can be done.”
This is not true. At WAI, we know some things can be done. Not all memory changes are related to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Sometimes, they may be caused by another health condition and can be treated. When the changes are caused by dementia, there are treatments and resources that can help quality of life for the person with the diagnosis and their family. Read about the importance of getting a dementia diagnosis.
Signs of potential memory loss
The following changes are signs a memory evaluation should be done:
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks (For example, planning and cooking a meal, paying bills or doing household tasks)
- Confusion with time, place or people
- New problems with words in speaking or writing or repeating oneself
- Misplacing or hiding things
- Withdrawal from activities
- Changes in mood and personality
– Source: Alzheimer’s Association
What to expect in a memory evaluation:
A visit to a WAI-affiliated memory clinic will include a physical exam, review of your medical history, and tests that measure your memory, thinking, and problem-solving skills. Staff will ask you questions about your medications, sleep health, mood, and ability to perform daily tasks. A doctor may ask you to undergo brain imaging scans and blood tests. It is helpful if a friend or family member who knows you well can accompany you to your memory clinic visit.
After your assessment, memory clinic staff will explain the results either immediately after your appointment or during a follow-up visit. Based on your diagnosis, clinic staff will review options for treatment, including medications or healthy lifestyle recommendations. The clinic staff will also supply you with information about community support services for patients and families living with dementia and offer recommendations for maintaining independence. WAI created a list of items you may wish to bring with you to a memory assessment. Download the pdf What to Bring to a Memory Assessment.
The WAI Affiliated Dementia Diagnostic Clinic Network connects memory clinics throughout the state. Find a memory clinic near you