Why assess memory, is there any benefit in identifying memory problems at an early stage and correctly diagnosing the cause of the memory problem?

Memory loss is not a normal part of ageing and identifying the cause of memory problems and cognitive decline is important as not all cases of memory problems are because of dementia.

Even identifying dementia in its early stages is very important as not all dementia is the same or has the same outcomes and therefore it is very crucial to identify the cause of dementia. There may be medication which may be helpful, depending on the type of dementia it may be possible to delay the progression or change the modifiable risk factors which are present.  It should not be assumed that if there is dementia nothing can be done.

What can I expect in the memory and cognitive assessment process?

It involves a complete social, psychological, functional as well as medical information and assessment and it also includes a review of medication.

Therefore it is important for the patient to bring a list of their current medications along to the consultation.

There are thousands of memory tests, however the test needs to be adapted and tailored depending on the characteristics and presentation of the person which also considers their baseline IQ, cultural and educational background and must be interpreted in context of the above variables.

This is a lengthy more than 1 hour process, involving attention and therefore in order to prevent fatigue the person is given a short break occasionally during the assessment.

Colleterial information from a caregiver, family member or close friend is vital in the cognitive assessment process.

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