What do Memory Clinics do?
What happens at a Memory Clinic? Memory clinics offer assessment for people suffering with memory difficulties or problems related to thinking. The aim is to give you a diagnosis or explanation for the memory problems. Before the appointment at the clinic we ask for blood tests. This is to check a reversible cause like low vitamin levels. Your GP will usually do these and give us the results.
1. Memory Tests
The first step is to check your current ability. This is done using various memory tests (Neuropsychology Assessment). This is usually done by a Neuropsychologist, Psychologist or Nurse Specialist. At our First Memory Clinic the Neuropsychologist will do the tests for you. They can take up to two hours to complete. Click here for more information about the tests.
2. Memory clinic MRI Brain Scan
The next step is for the memory clinic to organise a brain scan. This can be an MRI or CT scan – the MRI scan is more detailed and this is the one we choose at the First Memory Clinic. The scan will give us information on the brain’s blood supply. This is important because if the blood vessels are affected it can affect our ability and memory. The scan will also check for any other rare problems like brain swelling or a tumour. Finally the MRI brain scan will look at the areas of the brain affected by Alzheimers dementia. We will be able to see if these are affected in your scan and this helps with the diagnosis.
Memory testing is also done to see how a person’s brain is functioning. A consultant specialist in dementia diagnosis then speaks to the patient and goes through a full medical history to identify patterns in how the memory loss developed. This is very useful and important when it comes to diagnosing the problem.
3. Consultant Doctor Review
The final step is to meet with the Consultant. At our clinic our doctors are Old Age Consultant Psychiatrists who specialise in the diagnosis of dementia and related conditions. The Consultant will take a clinical history to see how your problems came about and over how long they have been progressing. He will speak to one of your family members or friends to see how they describe the problems you have had. This is called a “collateral” history and is also very important. He will discuss the results of the memory tests and brain scan with you. He will then tell you the most likely diagnosis or explanation. After this he will talk to you about the next steps. This might include repeating the tests again in the future or trying medication/psychology treatment if we find any problems.
Memory Clinic Treatment
If appropriate we may sometimes suggest anti-dementia medication. There are also other non-drug treatments for dementia like Cognitive Stimulation Therapy. If the memory impairment is mild (i.e. not diagnosed as dementia) then we will suggest other therapies to sharpen memory function ( like memory rehabilitation).
Memory Clinic Follow-Up
We will offer to see you again to check on your memory and general brain health. If the problems are mild we will usually suggest repeating the memory tests again in six or twelve months. If we have started treatment then we would want to see you sooner in around six to eight weeks. We can then check how you are doing on the medication tablets and see if it is safe to increase the dose. We can also check to see if you have had any side-effects or problems. Please click here if you would like to book an appointment.