Expert: When Do You Need to Get a Memory Evaluation?
For many of us, it is not until we reach middle age that we pay closer attention to our body and how it is aging. We undergo a significant number of medical screenings and evaluations to make sure we stay in good health.
Elevated blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol signify cardiovascular risk and need to be monitored closely and managed by our health care providers. We screen for cancer because the earlier we detect it, the better our chance of beating it. But what about our aging brain?
Does it deserve evaluation?
How do we know when changes in our brain need to be taken seriously?
As we age, cognitive changes can occur. We may find that we cannot process information quite as quickly as when we were younger. We may forget names and words that are right there on the tip of our tongue. It causes frustration and, at times, worry, but these minor changes are not uncommon and typically do not interfere substantially with our independent day-to-day life.
In those individuals who have a close relative with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, those same minor cognitive changes, such as forgetfulness, can be much more worrisome. Because of the potentially significant genetic risk for developing dementia, we may seek out a medical evaluation.
Signs and symptoms of cognitive change can include:
- Forgetfulness of recent events, conversations and names that occurs consistently and causes disruption in our ability to perform and function independently
- Repeating oneself frequently and regularly.
- Demonstrating poor judgment in daily decision-making processes such as managing finances or taking medications.
- Having a difficult time performing tasks that you were able to perform before, such as following a recipe or using a computer.
These are typical patterns of cognitive deficits that warrant getting a cognitive evaluation.
If symptoms do occur, you should ask your doctor for a comprehensive cognitive evaluation for you or a loved one.
The University of Miami Memory Disorders Clinic within the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and Aging (CNSA) offers a multidisciplinary comprehensive evaluation. The team can assist both you and your family in promoting better brain health and help you live the best quality of life possible.
Call 305-243-0214 for an appointment.
Written by Elizabeth A. Crocco, M.D., medical director of the University of Miami Memory Disorder Clinic at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and Aging.