Services for Patients and Caregivers
Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that will worsen over time and, unfortunately, does not yet have a cure. It affects a person’s ability to remember things and can affect language and problem-solving skills. It often begins slowly and can be difficult to detect at the beginning. Some people may blame their forgetfulness on just getting older; however, over time, their memory problems worsen and interfere with taking care of themselves.
Pay attention to these warning signs:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily activities
- Challenges with planning or solving problems
- Confusion with time and place or understanding of visual images
- Withdrawal from work or other social activities
- Changes in mood or personality
- Difficulty with speech and/or writing
If you or someone you know thinks your forgetfulness is getting in the way of your daily routine, or if you are concerned about your memory and if it is “normal aging,” talk to your doctor. Many primary care doctors know how to perform simple, but effective, tests of your memory and counting and language skills. They may also be able to determine if your problems are the result of medical issues, the medicines you take or because you are depressed or feeling exceptionally anxious.
If your doctor thinks you should have a more intensive examination, you may be referred to Montefiore’s Center for the Aging Brain or a specialist who is part of the Montefiore Health System and is working with the Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease.
The Center for the Aging Brain has a team of doctors with different specialties, including geriatrics, neurology and neuropsychology. Over several appointments, you’ll get a full physical exam, including a review of your past health history and the medicines you are taking; an assessment of how well you complete certain tasks (thinking tests to measure how well you remember and recall information, how good your reasoning is and how well you can follow directions); and an assessment of how you are feeling emotionally and mentally. You may also be asked to have some blood tests and, perhaps, get an MRI or a CT scan. Some of these visits can be done virtually, on a secure telemedicine connection.
When all the exams and tests are done, the doctors will prepare a complete report and make recommendations for further care if needed. This care plan will be shared with your primary care physician or the specialist who saw you first. Members of the team will meet with you and your caregiver to go over the care plan and give you information about services in the community that can help you and your caregivers and research studies that you may be eligible to participate in if you are interested. There will also be periodic follow-ups either by phone or secure video or in the office to see how you are doing and to determine if adjustments should be made to your care plan.
Other doctors who are part of the CEAD’s network will arrange for similar services. Because caregivers are a vital part of a patient’s care team, their needs and concerns are discussed as well. We encourage family members to attend appointments in person or on video or provide information to the team in advance. They can help describe any changes you may be experiencing, and they can help you understand what the doctors are saying.
A note about Aduhelm, a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease: The drug is not currently available at Montefiore while we await guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) about coverage and other issues.
To schedule an appointment or request a telehealth visit or to find a doctor closer to your home, call 914-375-4880.
The CEAD and organizations it works with also offer programs for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias and their caregivers.
Click here for information about support services offered by the Alzheimer’s Association of the Hudson Valley.
Click here for information about support services offered by CaringKind.
Click here for information about support services offered by the Lewy Body Dementia Resource Center.