Memory Disorders

If you or a loved one is diagnosed or living with a memory disorder, the memory care teams at Premier Health provide personalized, compassionate care. We work with you to understand what’s causing your condition and find ways to slow its progression.

We use a multidisciplinary approach to treat all types of memory conditions, from mild dementia to Alzheimer’s disease. Our specialists share their expertise in using advanced technology and research to diagnose, treat, and manage these potentially debilitating conditions.

We work with doctors in many specialties, such as cardiovascular care, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry and psychology, to maximize and improve your quality of life.

Types of Memory Disorders

Memory disorders occur when damage to certain parts of the brain prevents or reduces the ability to store, retain, or remember memories. Memory disorders also impact cognitive capabilities and social behaviors, affecting language, problem-solving skills, and the ability to perform simple tasks. They can range from mild to severe and progressive to immediate.

Trauma, stroke, and other conditions such as an infection or reaction to medicine, can lead to dementia and other memory problems. Dementia affects people of all ages, but is more commonly found in older people.

Types of memory disorders include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease. The most common form of dementia caused by changes to nerves in the brain that become tangled, form plaques, and lose their connections to other nerves. Alzheimer’s disease gets worse over time.
  • Vascular dementia . Decreased or blocked blood flow damages brain tissue. This is the second-most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies. As brain tissue breaks down, abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies form, causing dementia symptoms.
  • Frontotemporal dementia . A condition that affects nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. As the cells die, the lobes shrink.
  • Mild cognitive impairment. You or your family may notice changes or a decline in your memory, language, thinking or judgments, but this does not interfere with your regular activities.
  • Mixed dementia. A combination of dementia symptoms caused by Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Memory Disorder Symptoms

Memory problems and dementia from Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions tend to show up in stages as the disease progresses. A sudden onset of symptoms may also occur.

Symptoms may include:

  • Confusion
  • Inability to communicate
  • Inability to learn new things
  • Language problems
  • Memory loss
  • Paranoia
  • Repeating questions
  • Trouble managing money or paying bills
  • Trouble with reasoning
  • Wandering or getting lost 

Diagnosing Memory Disorders

If you experience signs of a memory disorder or are worried that your memory is slipping, our neurologists and nurses will perform a thorough evaluation.

Your doctor will talk with you and family members about your concerns and to learn more about your lifestyle, personality, work habits, medical history, and overall health.

Your diagnostic tests may include:

  • Neurological tests to diagnose thinking and memory problems
  • Physical and neurological exam to test:
    • Reflexes
    • Muscle tone and strength
    • Ability to get up from a chair and walk
    • Sense of sight and hearing
    • Coordination
    • Balance
  • Lab tests to test the blood for treatable causes of memory loss, such as:
    • Thyroid disorders
    • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Specialized brain imaging studies, including:
  • Neuropsychological testing uses specialized cognitive, language, memory, and motor skills tasks to check specific brain structures or pathways.

Treatments As Needed

Treatments for memory conditions and dementia aim to prevent symptoms from worsening and improve your overall function and quality of life.

Dementia caused by an infection or reaction to a medicine often can be treated and reversed. Progressive dementias — such as Alzheimer’s disease — can be slowed but not stopped.

Your treatments may include:

  • Antibiotics. If an infection causes memory problems, antibiotics can treat an infection
  • Diet and nutrition. Malnutrition can lead to memory disorders. Proper diet can help restore nutrients and normal cognitive skills.
  • Abstaining from drugs and alcohol. Some forms of memory disorders are caused by drug and alcohol use.
  • Medicines. Certain medicines (cholinesterase inhibitors) may slow declines in memory, thinking, and language skills and reduce changes in behavior, hallucinations and delusions. These medicines don’t work for everyone and may only work for a limited time.
  • Cognitive rehabilitation. Therapies focused on improving cognitive skills for a wide range of activities and using tools and techniques such as memory notebooks or self-cues.
  • Physical activity. Staying active can slow the advancement of symptoms and keep you healthy. You can exercise on your own or with a physical therapist.
  • Social interactions. Spending quality time with loved ones and friends can improve your mood, reduce feelings of isolation and boost overall health.
  • Safe, comfortable environment. Living in a familiar, safe and calming environment reduces the risk of injury and feelings of anxiety.

Team Approach To Care

You receive care from a team led by fellowship-trained neurologists who specialize in memory disorders and many other specialists who collaborate to give you the best care possible. Your memory care team may include:

  • Neuropsychologists
  • Interventional neurologists
  • Neurocritical care neurologists
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Psychologists
  • Specially-trained nurses
  • Neuroscience social workers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists       

Depending on your specific condition, your care team will include specialists to keep you healthy an address any underlying or existing conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions or stroke.

Research For New Treatments

At Premier Health, we take part in research and clinical trials to find new treatments for memory disorders and improve patient outcomes. Talk with your doctor for more information about these studies.

Current research for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias includes:

  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS). A device called a neurostimulator is placed under the skin in the chest and lead wires are implanted into the brain. Similar to a pacemaker for the heart, deep brain stimulation sends electrical impulses to a specific area of the brain causing a symptom, such as a tremor or walking problems. DBS is used to treat movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease. It is being tested as a treatment for dementia.
  • New medicines. Multiple clinical trials are underway to test new medicines that stop dementia and the Alzheimer’s disease process. Other medicines target beta-amyloid, a protein fragment that forms the plaques that destroy nerve cells in the brain.

Vascular dementia and Frontotemporal dementia are both two very bad kinds of dementia

Contact Us

Our specialists are ready to help you get back to the things that matter most in your life. Find a provider near you or consult our list of related practices.

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