Memory Clinics Overview
A major barrier to quality-of-care for persons affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and their families is the inability or failure to obtain a timely and accurate diagnosis. An estimated 50 percent of people with a dementing illness are never diagnosed or diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease when support, education and current treatments are less effective. WAI offers a network of 44 affiliated Dementia Diagnostic Clinics, including two Clinics in Milwaukee serving the African-American and Hispanic communities. These Diagnostic, or Memory Clinics, provide quality care to more than 3,000 new patients annually, many from rural, underserved parts of Wisconsin. Through these Memory Clinics, WAI also provides education, mentorship and support to more than 200 physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, psychologists, social workers and nurses within this statewide network.
If you have concerns about memory loss, thinking skills or behavior changes in yourself or a loved one, contacting a nearby clinic or your primary care physician is an important first step toward diagnosis and treatment.
Early Diagnosis is Key
Dementia is a decline in intellectual ability severe enough to interfere with a person’s activities of daily life. Dementia related to depression, drug interaction and thyroid problems may be reversible if detected early.
Other causes of dementia include stroke, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Pick’s disease and, most commonly, Alzheimer’s disease. It is important to identify the actual cause of dementia in order to provide the most appropriate care.
What’s wrong with me?
Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can help resolve the anxiety of not knowing. It allows patients and families to plan, maximize care and make decisions regarding living arrangements, finances and legal issues and other concerns.
While there is no single diagnostic test to detect Alzheimer’s disease, it can be diagnosed by reviewing a detailed history, a complete physical and neurological examination, psychiatric assessment and laboratory tests. Once completed, a physician can make a diagnosis of “probable” Alzheimer’s disease with 80 to 90 percent certainty.