Memory impairment may be the early sign of a disorder called dementia in elderly. Dementia means a progressive decline in the ability to remember, to think and to reason. Dementia is not normal ageing or accelerated ageing, but a qualitative and quantitative change in brain’s function. There are several diseases that may cause dementia and doctor will be the one to differentiate Alzheimer’s disease from other types of dementia. However, one should know what the signs and symptoms of dementia are, so one will know when to consult the doctor. Early intervention will help to manage the disease better.
The Following Questionnaire is used to Identify early dementia
Screening Tool for Dementia Check the boxes that describe the problem you have.
- Memory loss (Forgets appointments, cannot recall recent events or conversations)
- Misplacing objects & thinking someone has stolen them
- Disorientation (gets confused in unfamiliar places, does not know the time or year, could not find his/her way home)
- Speaking (forgets the names of simple, well known objects, uses inappropriate work, repeats words & statements)
- Loss of interest in hobbies and personal activities, avoids activities he/she used to enjoy
- Recognizing friends, co-workers or family members (forgets who are grandchildren, thinks friends are strangers)
- Performing complex tasks (keep check book, count money, use the telephone)
- Troublesome behavior (going outside in the night, aggressiveness)
- Poor personal hygiene (forgets to brush teeth, dresses slowly or in inappropriate clothing, forgets to take bath)
If you have ticked any of the above boxes, there is a possibility that you suffer from dementia or other medical problems. Please consult your family physician for proper referrals.
Memory difficulty is not uncommon in late life and may be due to the normal process of ageing or associated with physical and mental disorder. The most common disease causing poor memory in old people is dementia and careful assessment is necessary to recognize the treatable or econdary dementia eg: disorder related to thyroid disorders, deficiency of Vitamin B12 etc.
Causes for Memory Disorder in Older Adults
- Mental stress and strain.
- Age related memory impairment.
- Memory loss due to treatable diseases, Ex: hypertension, stroke, blood clot in the brain, alcohol, psychiatric and sleeping tablets. Infections like Aids, syphilis, etc., thyroid diseases, mental depression.
- Alzheimer’s diseases.
As the longevity of the life is increasing more and more people are affected with mental health. It ranges from mild depression to severe dementia. To educate the elderly people about mental health .Dr.V.S.Natarajan has written a booklet on “Good bye to Dementia” in Tamil. To assess the exact cause for memory loss, a “Memory Clinic” was started on 15th July 2006. This is the first of its kind in Tamil Nadu, which was inaugurated by a senior Psychiatrist Dr. Sarada Menon.
Early detection of primary dementia like Alzheimer’s disease is important to plan for future management and pharmacological treatment. The memory clinic is a specialized service for people with memory loss and dementia. Diagnosis and intervention is provided for people concerned about changes in their memory or the memory of some one they care about.
For the first time in Chennai, a fullfleged memory clinic is functioning at Adhiparasakthi Clinic 18, A, Flowers Road, Kilpauk, Chennai – 600 010 at 10.00 am to 12.00 Noon on Tuesday’s and Friday’s by a team of experts led by Prof.V.S. Natarajan, a reputed Geriatrician. The memory clinic offers a multidisciplinary team approach.
Who might benefits from Memory Clinic services?
The person’s age above 60 years experiencing difficulty with thinking, concentrating or remembering would benefit from services offered at the clinic. In particular, persons who may be wondering whether the changes they are experiencing in their memory function represent a normal part of aging or a progressive disabling memory condition. A professional referral to the memory clinic is not necessary.
- Assessment of memory and cognition
- Assessment of activities of daily living
- Determine accurate diagnosis
- Provide education and training
- Provide support, advice and training to family and caregivers.
The following benefits will be offered at “Memory Clinic”
- The reason for memory disturbances will be assessed, Ex: stress and strain, drugs, alcohol, diseases or dementia.
- If the memory disturbance is not due to any diseases, appropriate counseling and life style modifications will be offered.
- For treatable causes for memory loss appropriate therapy will be given.
- People with severe Alzheimer’s disease along with the drug therapy, more attention will be paid to the caregiver’s by giving exclusive counseling.
- Memory loss in old age is not inevitable and at the same time it should not be taken as a normal process of ageing. When the memory loss is more than normal it is better to consult a Geriatrician.
The procedure at memory Clinic is as follows
- Any body above the age of 60 years with a memory disorder can attend the “Memory Clinic”.
- It is preferable to accompany with an informant Registration can be done with a nominal fee.Detailed mental assessment will be carried out by a well-qualified Psychologist (Two persons).
- Geriatrician will assess the medical problems and intervention will be given according to the mental problems of the older persons.
- Few volunteers (about 10) from Senior Citizens Bureau, Chennai, has registered with the “Memory Clinic” to work as a volunteer. Since I am the Chairman of the Senior Citizens Bureau I get the full co-operation with the volunteers
- After the final assessment the patient will be explained, about his mental health.
- A Drug therapy will be given whenever necessary.
- Exercise and other life style management will be taught.
- In case of severe dementia more attention will paid to the caregivers and appropriate counseling will be given.
- Volunteers will make house visit to help the caregivers whenever necessary.
- Since the inauguration of “Memory Clinic” more than 100 people were benefited. People from the Homes for the Aged also benefited by attending “Memory Clinic”.
- For the record purpose we take photographs of all the patient who attend the “Memory Clinic”.
- We review the patient every month for the minimum period of 3 months.