While some primary care doctors are skilled at diagnosing and treating forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, the right diagnosis for memory problems might be missed without the help of a specialist. In fact, “only about one-third of people who have Alzheimer’s disease are properly diagnosed and treated by a primary care physician,” says Constantine Lyketsos, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center. This is where the memory clinics come in. If you are having memory problems and not getting a specific diagnosis from your doctor, a memory clinic offers the opportunity for an accurate diagnosis and state-of-the-art dementia care.
Reasons why people may visit a memory clinic:
- Have a family member with memory problems and are not happy with the attention they are getting from other doctors
- When they realize memory symptoms that were attributed to aging are getting worse
- When they are dealing with a behavioral crisis
- When an assessment is needed to be determining if a loved one can drive or live alone safely
Memory clinics offer a higher level of dementia care. Usually, a memory clinic will include psychiatrists, specialized psychologists, neurologists, gerontologists, nurses, rehabilitation therapists, and social workers. “Studies have found that this type of treatment improves quality of life, reduces symptoms, and helps patients with dementia stay home longer“, says Lyketsos . Although the number of memory clinics that are in the U.S. is growing, you still may have to travel to find one. Ideally, you should be able to return every five to six months for follow-up. Whether you do happen to have a local facility or need to travel to one, a memory clinic might be able to offer the diagnosis and care that you are looking for.