Alzheimer’s disease is one type of progressive dementia that will worsen over time and that does not have a cure. This 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 early stages. Some people may blame their forgetfulness on old age; 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 whether what concerns you is “normal aging,” talk to your doctor. Many primary care doctors and most neurologists know how to perform simple, but effective, tests of your memory, counting and language skills. They may also be able to determine if your problems are being caused by medical causes, medicines you take or if 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. There you will be seen by a team of doctors with different specialties, including geriatrics, neurology and neuropsychology.
You’ll get a full medical evaluation, including past history and medications; a functional assessment, to see how well you complete certain tasks; a cognitive assessment (“thinking exercises”), to measure how well you remember and recall information, how good is your reasoning and can you follow directions; and a psychosocial 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. This won’t all happen in one appointment; it could take two or three separate visits.
Because caregivers are a vital part of a patient’s care team, their needs and concerns are assessed as well. We encourage family members to attend appointments or provide information to the team prior. They can help describe any changes you may be experiencing, and they can help you understand what the doctors are saying. 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 referred you to the CAB.
The team will meet with you and your caregiver to go over the care plan and provide information on services in the community that can help you and your caregivers. You will also learn of the newest groundbreaking 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 in the office to see how you are doing and to determine if adjustments should be made to the plan of care.
Our comprehensive evaluation will help guide your care, coordination with your primary care physician or regular specialist and will enhance quality of life for all affected by Alzheimer’s disease and its related dementias.
For more information about the CAB, click here. The CAB is located at 6 Executive Plaza, Suite 297, Yonkers, NY 10701. Click here for a map and directions. To schedule an appointment, call 914-375-4880.
If you would like an appointment with a physician closer to your home, send an email to MontefioreCEAD@montefiore.org
The CEAD also offers programs for caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias.
Click here for information about an Alzheimer’s support group.
Click here for information about a Lewy Body Dementia support group.