You’ve reached us outside of our opening hours. Book a free telephone consultation and one of our care planning experts will give you a call whenever is convenient for you.
Memory clinic: What is it?
Memory clinics are specialist centres that are often used to diagnose dementia.
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.
GP referral to a memory clinic
Dementia can’t be cured, but it can be treated, particularly in its early stages, so a prompt diagnosis is important in order to limit the progression of the disease.
Your first port of call is almost certain to be your loved one’s GP, but unfortunately, the majority of doctors just don’t have the time and resources to enable them to make an accurate diagnosis, leading to delays in diagnosis and the chance that the disease will progress without the necessary treatment.
A firm diagnosis of dementia follows a wide selection of tests which the GP probably has neither the time nor the necessary skills to carry out, so you and your relative are likely to be referred to a memory clinic.
What happens at a memory clinic?
There are memory clinics throughout the UK, offering the services of several different specialists, including psychologists, who deal with mental health issues, geriatricians, who are trained in matters relating to ageing, and nurses with specialist dementia training.
Your loved one will be given a baseline assessment to establish their current memory problems. They will be offered a series of tests to check on their ability to remember facts and retain information, which will give an initial insight into their mental capabilities.
It’s important to stress to your loved one that there is no pressure to perform well in these tests – they are done merely to provide the medical professionals with an insight into your relative’s mental processes so that they can uncover any anomalies which could help with a diagnosis.
Your relative will also be asked to supply blood and urine samples, and they may have to undergo some type of scan. They may be offered a CAT scan, also known as computerised axial tomography, which takes x-ray images of the brain, or an MRI scan, which uses magnetic resonance imaging to show a detailed picture of the brain, which can identify damage caused by dementia.
An EEG uses electroencephalogram imaging to record electrical activity within the brain, whilst a SPECT scan relies on single photon emission computerised tomography to assess blood flow through the brain.
These scans can seem daunting, but they are completely painless. However, they allow medical professionals to easily identify any areas of brain shrinkage or anomalies that indicate a diagnosis of dementia.
Get clarity on
Our free, fast and simple calculator tells you
what funding sources and benefits might be suitable
for your family.
Get expert legal advice
We’ve partnered with Co-op Legal Services, one of the UK’s most trusted providers, to bring you expert legal advice on elderly issues.
As an Elder customer, you’re entitled to a 5% discount on Co-op Legal Services’ probate and estate administration service, and a 10% discount on their estate planning and will writing services.
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.
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.
Read more information and advice:
Information and advice
Caring for a loved one
Are you looking after a loved one? We’ve used our experience of helping families to produce this detailed guide on best practices for caregivers.
Information and advice
Preparing for care
Yet to decide which care option is best for you? In this guide, we run through the most popular types of care. Comparing live-in care to the care home.
Information and advice
Living well with dementia
In this guide, Beth Britton – an award-winning dementia campaigner provides you with the essential information and practical tips you need to live well with dementia.
Information and advice
Staying active and mobile
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the sorts of mobility issues you might expect to arise, explore the importance of diet and how you can improve loved one’s lifestyle right away.
Information and advice
Getting out and about in later life
A healthier, more fulfilling life begins the moment you step outside. That can be trickier as you get older. Here’s our top advice on making sure you can get out and about.
Paying for care
Paying for care: A four-step plan to get funding
Get clarity on paying for care With our four-step plan, getting the…
NHS Continuing Healthcare – how to get all your care costs covered
NHS Continuing Healthcare – your complete guide NHS Continuing Healthcare covers every…
Elderly benefits – get what you’re entitled to
Benefits for the elderly – how to top up your income Whether…
Local authority funding – how most people fund their care
Local authority care funding – everything you need to know If you…
Using an equity release scheme to fund live-in care
Using an equity release scheme to fund live-in care Paying for care…
What is a memory clinic?
Memory clinic: What is it? Memory clinics are specialist centres that are…
Discover more about Elder:
How Elder works
Arranging care for someone can be confusing and complex. In a world that’s difficult to navigate, we’re here to help. Here’s how care with Elder works.
Every family we help are unique. For each, there are different triggers that finally motivate them to give us a call. Here are some of their stories.
Our pricing makes live-in care as affordable as possible by ensuring your family only pays for the support you actually need.
We go to great lengths to ensure all the carers with us are of the highest standard. Read our carer stories to discover why they joined the profession.
What is live-in care?
Live-in care is the new standard in elderly support, and a safer, affordable alternative to the care home. Here’s an overview of what it is.
Discover every detail about live-in care in our 32-page brochure