Memory Clinic at Phoenix Hospital Group
Memory Clinic // December 20th, 2019
Memory clinics are hubs of specialist knowledge and expertise, providing diagnosis, treatment and support for those with memory issues and their families.
Our Memory Clinic here at 25 Harley Street is led by our Specialist Consultant Dr Soumit Singhai who is highly experienced in this field and who has expertise in the diagnosis and management of the different causes of memory problems and dementias including Alzheimers, Dementia with Lewy Bodies and Vascular Dementia which are the most common types of dementia.
There are a number of reasons that you may find difficulty with memory. Often it can be due to the progress of age, but sometimes it can point to underlying disease such as Alzheimer’s.
Our Memory clinic in London is designed to help uncover the root cause of your concern in a relaxed and confidential setting. We will then be able to provide the best support and treatment which allows you to live a full and independent life.
Why have I been referred to the Memory Clinic?
- Your NHS or private GP may have referred you to the clinic if any concern has been raised about your cognition or memory. You can raise this concern yourself or a loved one can do so on your behalf
- Typically your GP will have done some short initial tests but now would like someone more specialised in the area of memory to see you
- Attending our private Memory Clinic here at 25 Harley Street can greatly increase the speed with which you are seen, and of course reach any potential future diagnosis
- NHS referrals in the UK usually take around 6 weeks and can take over 8 weeks to reach a diagnosis
What can I expect at the Memory Clinic?
Changes in memory can be worrying but our experienced team are on hand to provide guidance and reassurance whilst any issues are being investigated. We make sure each patient has the time to fully explore with us their concerns and expectations regarding their memory.
It can be helpful to bring a loved one to the appointment with you. Our specialists may ask what their thoughts and experiences are to paint a more complete picture of your memory and cognitive abilities.
What about investigations and assessments?
A blood test panel will usually be performed to screen for reversible and usually easily treatable causes of memory problems such as vitamin deficiencies for example.
There are a number of “cognitive tests” that can be used to take a better look at your memory and thinking . This can include some verbal and written questions and these are not tests in the traditional sense, they do not have a ‘pass’ or a ‘good’ mark. They are simply designed to highlight the area or areas of you memory and thinking where you would most benefit from help. You should not feel any pressure to perform well in these tests, they are to guide treatment decisions only.
With regards to investigations an MRI of the brain is also usually undertaken to look at the brain from a structural point of view and see if there is any underlying neurodegenerative process underlying your symptoms.
Here in our memory clinic at 25 Harley Street we also have access to the latest cutting edge technology in this field with access to the latest imaging modalities such as FDG Pet scans and SPECT scans which are not routinely available as well as latest software platforms for computerised cognitive assessments when indicated.
When do I get a diagnosis?
This of course differs for everyone. In some cases a diagnosis can be made on the day, in others, further scans or tests may be required in the future. It is likely that follow up will be recommended to keep track of how you are progressing.
Once a diagnosis has been reached, we can then offer a range of support and treatment strategies.
Your Follow Up Consultation
Your follow up with our memory specialist is there to give plenty of time and space to consider your best next steps.
For some people this can include:
- A discussion and advice about how best to support you to try and maintain as much independence as possible whilst also discussing aspects of care you might need to enable this.
- Advice for leading a brain-healthy life style as there is promising research showing that you can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias and slow down deterioration through a combination of simple but effective lifestyle changes.
- Medication is an option for a number of those with memory concerns, including Alzheimer’s. If taking medication is right for you then this will be discussed. Again, it can help to have a loved one with you to help take in all the new information.
- Any new medication regimen will be shared in conjunction with your regular GP to ensure a consistent treatment approach.
What medications are available?
Management strategy in our memory clinic at 25 Harley Street is based on the best and latest clinical evidence in this field.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and there are several medication options available which can help to temporarily reduce or slow the progression of symptoms.
Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors reduce the breakdown of a neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine in the brain which is reduced in Alzheimers Disease.
They are typically used in Alzheimer’s disease as well as Parkinson’s Disease Dementia and Dementia with Lewy Bodies.
Memantine is another drug that can be used in Alzheimer’s disease and can also be taken by those who do not tolerate acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.
It works by blocking the negative effects of too much glutamate (which is a neurotransmitter ) which occurs in Alzheimer’s disease and can help with both attention and agitation.
Antidepressants can be used to combat underlying anxiety or elements of depression which often overlap with Dementia.
There also medications to help with managing certain behavioural problems encountered particularly in advanced dementia which can sometimes mean that people can be continued to be looked after in their own home rather than somewhere else like a care home for example.
What about other aspects of care for memory problem and dementia?
Medication whilst important is one aspect when it comes to caring for those with dementia. Other aspects of care aimed at emotional and physical wellbeing are also very important and this is referred to as “holistic care”. Examples of this are:
Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) is recommended by the Alzheimer’s Society to keep patient’s brains mentally active. Taking place over several weeks, there are themed activities such as music, current affairs and puzzles to enjoy. CST has been shown to improve not only the mental ability but also the quality of life of those suffering with dementia.
Cognitive rehabilitation sees patients working closely with a health professional such as a psychologist to help achieve a pre-set goal that you have chosen together. This could be preserving a skill such as cooking or making sure that an emergency phone can be used.
Reminiscence work takes prompts from familiar objects or music to help build a picture of your life as a whole. This can be used in conjunction with Life story work, using a scrapbook or photo album, perhaps with a loved one, to recall and record life experiences and events.
Research has shown than reviewing memories and personal values in this way can improve well being, memory and mood.
Creative therapies such as music, dance, or anything else in the creative sphere can be done solo or in a group. They are especially useful if you find it hard to vocalise or talk about your memory concerns.
Other relaxation and complementary therapies such as aromatherapy and massage also have evidence to show that they can help with aspects of dementia. Using a light box has also been shown to reduce sleep disturbance and increase positive mood.
Also as mentioned above there are strategies for maintaining a brain healthy life style which can be advised. For more information on our Memory Clinic service call 0207 079 2102.