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Memory Assessment Services

Have you ever misplaced your keys, forgotten a phone number or drawn a blank when trying to recall someone's name? For some people, this type of forgetfulness is a normal part of aging and generally not a cause for concern. When memory loss becomes disabling or interferes with daily living, it may be a warning sign of something more.

Geriatricians, physician assistants, pharmacists, social workers, psychologists and nurses all work together to provide a comprehensive approach for patients with concerns about their memory.

To make an appointment with a UCI Health geriatrician, call us at 714-456-7007.

When to call a doctor

A memory assessment should be sought when an older adult:

  • Can no longer work
  • Can no longer manage his or her finances
  • Gets lost frequently when driving
  • Experiences dramatic personality or behavioral changes

Memory screening

Patients with suspected memory loss are given an initial physical exam and memory screening.

If results indicate a problem, the patient undergoes an in-depth cognitive evaluation by a neuropsychologist. The comprehensive assessment tests attention, concentration, memory, problem-solving and verbal skills. Our geriatricians work closely with neurologists, who may perform blood, spinal cord fluid tests and brain imaging scans.

There are many possible causes for memory loss. It's important to identify and address the underlying cause. Symptoms of memory loss can be caused by a neurodegenerative condition such as Alzheimer's disease, or by other conditions such as undetected small strokes.

Other things that can contribute to memory loss include depression, medication interactions, sleep problems, thyroid disorders, anxiety and vitamin deficiencies.

Diagnosis and treatment

After memory loss has been diagnosed, our geriatricians put together an effective treatment plan tailored to the patient's needs and lifestyle. The causes and types of dementia vary:

  • Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of dementia cases. According to the Alzheimer's Association, as baby boomers age, one in eight will get Alzheimer's disease after turning 65. At 85, the risk increases to nearly one in two.
  • Vascular dementia is caused by poor blood flow to the brain, and can result from any number of conditions that narrow the blood vessels, such as stroke, diabetes and hypertension.
  • Other forms of dementia include dementia with Lewy bodies, an abnormal protein deposit in the brain stem and cerebral cortex; Parkinson's disease dementia; frontotemporal dementia, which affects language and behavior; and Huntington's disease.

Each type of dementia requires its own treatment approach.

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