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Dementia

Dementia

Memory Loss

Concerns about memory loss can be common in older adults. Mild day-to-day forgetting can be normal for all people, particularly during times of stress. In some cases, however, memory difficulties may represent the earliest stages of a dementia, particularly if memory problems worsen over time. Dementia is defined as a progressive change in thinking functions, associated with difficulty managing a person’s usual day-to-day responsibilities. Dementia is usually progressive in nature, and can be due to a number of different underlying causes. These causes may include an underlying brain disease process, such as Alzheimer’s type dementia; damage to the small blood vessels in the brain, causing a Vascular dementia; or reversible, that is, treatable conditions, such as depression.

Neuropsychological assessment plays a valuable part in the process of determining if someone has a dementia. An assessment can identify the earliest changes in thinking skills, provide valuable information about how well a person is functioning, and allow an early diagnosis to be made. For some individuals, they may be reassured that their thinking skills are normal for their age. This information can provide a baseline, in the event that the difficulties noticed progress over time. For other individuals, it can be useful in diagnosing the early stages of dementia and allow valuable time to plan ahead for the future. This may include identifying whether a person is eligible for medications, which may reduce symptoms, along with access to services that can help an individual live independently.

The process of reaching a diagnosis usually involves medical tests organised by an individual’s General Practitioner, or the practice General Practitioner, including blood tests or a CT brain scan. An MRI brain scan may be required, and this can be ordered via a specialist doctor, such as the individual’s Psychiatrist or Physician, or alternatively, the practice Psychiatrist.

Self-referrals to a neuropsychologist are accepted, however liaison with an individual’s doctor will form an important part of the diagnostic process. Alternatively a referral can be made via a General Practitioner or specialist doctor.

Useful links:

Alzheimer’s Australia: http://www.fightdementia.org.au/understanding-dementia/about-dementia.aspx

Better Health Channel:

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Dementia_and_memory_loss

Our Neuropsychologists are able to assit you: To view the profiles of practitioners who can assist you, click here

To make an appointment with one of our practitioners click here or phone (03) 9419 7172