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Memory clinic: What is it?
Memory clinics are specialist centres that are often used to diagnose dementia. It’s somewhere you’ll usually be referred to after a stay in hospital or a visit to your GP. In this article, we cover everything you need to know.
- A memory clinic is a specialist centre in which you undergo a series of tests – such as CAT, MRI and SPECT scans – to help figure out whether you’re living with dementia.
- If you think you or a loved one is demonstrating some of the warning signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia, the best way to arrange an appointment is by visiting your GP who will refer you.
The suspicion that your elderly relative may be experiencing early symptoms of dementia can cause a great deal of stress and worry. Perhaps you have noticed that they are starting to forget things such as appointments, important dates and events, or maybe they are getting confused about their finances. They may be losing things more frequently than usual and struggling to remember familiar names.
That’s where a memory clinic comes in. Sometimes known as a memory service, it’s somewhere you can go to have any issues around your memory properly investigated by an expert. Those working in memory clinics are specifically trained in understanding conditions such as dementia.
They can carry out certain tests to determine your loved one’s stage of the condition. This will allow them to prescribe certain drugs, recommend certain lifestyle changes or guide you on useful mental exercises.
What happens after visiting a memory clinic?
Depending on the results of the tests, your relative may be asked to come back in a few months for further testing, or they may receive a diagnosis.
Partners, family members or carers are welcome to attend appointments too, and where dementia has been identified, the health professionals may choose to discuss the diagnosis with someone other than the patient in the first instance, depending on their likely reaction to the news.
Because the memory clinic is staffed with professionals experienced in dementia treatment, they are on hand to offer advice and support and to answer any questions that you or your loved one might have about the diagnosis.
They will undertake regular reviews of any necessary medication and provide in-depth information on the specific condition which has been diagnosed, since dementia can take many different forms, including Alzheimer’s disease, Pick’s disease and Dementia with Lewy Bodies, for example.
The memory clinic will report their findings to your relative’s GP and will provide details of any diagnosis, collaborating over any prescribed treatment plans.
You will be given telephone and contact details to access further information and support services and will receive further appointments to track the progress of the disease so that any medications can be altered as necessary.
Discover more of our articles on dementia
From dealing with a diagnosis and understanding the implications to getting advice on how to live well with the condition, our extensive resources will help guide you through what can be a tough and emotional moment.
Why is a memory clinic better than a GP?
Unlike a GP, the memory clinic can focus specifically on memory issues, with trained and experienced staff who understand the concerns and worries of people with dementia, or those who suspect that they might have it. They can spend time talking over the issues and directing patients to the most appropriate sources of help, such as local community support services.
Trained nursing staff understand the issues surrounding living with dementia and can spend as much time as you need discussing options and provide helpful advice and reassurance.
If necessary, they can direct you to elderly care services in your local area, such as companion care for elderly people who are feeling vulnerable following their diagnosis.
You and your loved one will be offered information on long-term care solutions, giving you plenty of time to research and plan for the later stages of the disease. That might involve care in a nursing home or a live-in carer agency, such as Elder, where they will provide a caregiver experienced in dementia care to move into their home and provide 24/7 support.
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