Occasional memory lapses are common but when memory problems interfere with everyday function, they should not be dismissed as a part of aging. If you or a loved one has concerns about memory problems, turn to Alton Memorial Hospital's Memory Disorder Diagnostic Clinic. We can assist people with memory problems, including Alzheimer's disease.
The clinic provides a multi-disciplinary approach to the diagnosis and management of dementia. A comprehensive assessment includes meeting with the clinic coordinator and an evaluation by a board-certified psychiatrist. The physician also reviews each case and follows the patient's progress.
Licensed psychotherapists are available for family consultation, if needed, to assist in coping with the diagnosis and make referrals to community resources.
Causes of Memory Disorders
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of memory disorder, but there are many other reasons why people can have problems with their memory. Conditions that contribute to dementia include stroke, Parkinson's disease, thyroid deficiency, depression, sleep disorders and vitamin deficiencies.
Fortunately, most of these conditions are treatable and some are even reversible. A thorough evaluation may be necessary to determine the extent and cause of memory problems.
Early diagnosis of memory disorders is essential to ensure current treatment options are initiated to delay disease progression or reverse the cause of the dementia. If the cause of the memory disorder is Alzheimer's disease, early treatment may help delay loss of independence and nursing home placement. Early diagnosis also gives the patient and family more time to gain information, learn to cope with the diagnosis and help them prepare for the future.
Dementia Warning Signs
Symptoms that may indicate memory disorders include:
- Recent memory loss that affects job skills
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks
- Language problems — difficulty recalling names or numbers
- Disorientation to time and place
- Loss of judgment
- Problems with abstract thinking
- Misplacing things
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Changes in personality
- Loss of initiative or motivation
Screening Out Memory Disorders
No single test or exam can diagnose memory disorders, including Alzheimer's disease. A comprehensive evaluation is necessary to ensure the most accurate diagnosis and to initiate appropriate treatment.
Anyone suffering the symptoms of memory loss or dementia may schedule an evaluation. A physician referral is not necessary and most health plans cover the evaluation, which may include:
- In-depth medical history
- Functional assessment
- Cognitive evaluation — neuropsychological test
- Neurological examination
- Lab work
- Brain scan with MRI or CT imaging
- Consultation with patient and family
- Discussion of treatment options
- Follow-up visits to assess treatment effectiveness
- Referrals to outside agencies to assist the family and patient
To schedule a comprehensive examination, call the Memory Disorder Diagnostic Clinic at 618.433.6016.
About the SIU Center for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders
The Memory Disorder Diagnostic Clinic is one of 36 primary providers in the Illinois Memory and Aging Network. This network is coordinated by the Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine's Center for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders (CADRD). CADRD initiates safe and effective treatments, keeps clinicians and staff current on the latest findings in memory disorders, and collects data for research purposes. Patients of the Memory Disorder Diagnostic Center may sign a release to share their evaluation results with CADRD researchers. The data is used to develop evaluation and treatment protocols, and track patients from across the state. SIU monitors symptoms and trends that may help give clues to new treatments — and hopefully someday a cure — for Alzheimer's disease. Center patients not only receive help for their memory disorder, but also help researchers make advances in the treatment of these life-robbing diseases.