Preparing for Your First Memory Clinic Visit

Memory Loss Consultations at BIDMC

Memory Clinic Checklist

check boxThe following will help you prepare for your first visit for a memory evaluation at our Memory Clinic.

Before Your First Memory Loss Consultation

Your memory evaluation begins well before your actual visit to the Memory Clinic. We will review all pertinent records, including:

  • Previous memory tests/evaluations performed by other clinicians
  • Laboratory or blood tests
  • Imaging studies such as CT scans and MRI
  • Information about medical problems that you are being
    treated for

We request that you ask your physician's office to fax or mail us a copy of your records a few weeks before your visit. Patients who receive their medical care primarily from providers affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center may not need to forward their medical records, as these are already available to us. If you are unsure as to which part of your medical records to request, your primary care physician may be the best person to ask.

During Your First Visit

We recognize you might be anxious about your memory evaluation. We hope these tips and guidelines for what to expect at your first visit will help make you feel more comfortable.

Arrive early

Arrive a few minutes before your scheduled visit to allow time to fill out the required paperwork. You will be more at ease during the memory evaluation if you are not rushing to get to the appointment.

Bring a relative or friend

It is best to have a relative (spouse, adult child, etc.) or a close friend who is familiar with your history to accompany you to the visit.

Bring your medications

Because some medications are known to cause memory impairment, it is essential that you bring all your most current medications including over-the-counter and alternative medications in their bottles or bubble packs to your appointment. This is better than a list, which can be incomplete and have incorrect doses.

Medical and memory history

The evaluation begins by meeting with one of our memory specialists who will obtain a comprehensive history regarding your memory problems as well as your general state of health.

Your family member may be asked to join you for this portion of the evaluation to help confirm or clarify certain parts of your history.

Cognitive testing

The doctor will then perform a set of cognitive tests that will identify your mind's strengths and weaknesses. These tests are objective measures of your current abilities and will serve as your baseline that can be used to compare future performance. You are not expected to perform perfectly in these tests, so do not feel bad if you miss certain questions.

Neurologic screening and physical examination

After the interview, the doctor will perform a neurologic screening and physical examination to detect certain diseases that may cause or worsen memory problems.

Social worker and community resources

If necessary, your family member may be asked to meet separately with a social worker to obtain additional information and to provide you with community resources such as support groups that may be helpful to you now or in the future.

Additional testing

At the conclusion of the initial visit, the doctor may request certain blood tests and imaging studies (CT scan, MRI and/or PET scan) and may also refer you to a neuropsychologist to arrive at the most accurate diagnosis. The decision to do further testing is made on a case-by-case basis. The blood tests can be completed during your initial visit, but the imaging studies and neuropsychologic evaluation will need to be scheduled for another time.

Follow-Up Visits

Depending on your particular case and what additional tests might be needed, you may be asked to return after all the tests have been completed. During this follow-up visit, you will be given a summary of test results, the diagnosis, and an outline of the treatment plan. A periodic visit for a memory re-evaluation may then be advised to follow the improvement or progression of the memory condition.

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For Referring Clinicians

We accept referrals for patients with memory loss and other cognitive impairments. Your patient will be seen by our memory specialists who will obtain a comprehensive history and perform cognitive tests, a neurologic screening and physical examination. We offer practical strategies for helping patients and families cope with cognitive disorders. We also have a social worker who will meet separately with patients to help with coping and/or caregiver support issues.

The memory evaluation is completed by blood tests (TSH, Vitamin B12 levels), a neuroimaging study (CT scan, MRI and/or PET scan), and a referral to a neuropsychologist on a case-by-case basis. If any of these tests have been performed recently on your patient, please forward us copies as well as any previous memory tests (e.g. mini-mental state examinations) you may have performed in the past.

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