What is Memory Decline and Dementia?
Mild memory decline is a normal part of aging. Normal age-related memory decline does not indicate a disease process. However, greater-than-expected decline significantly affects daily life and can indicate a Demetia such as Alzheimer's disease. Dementia is a general term that describes changes in mental functions including memory, attention, concentration, language and organizational abilities. Dementia does not imply a cause or a specific disease.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, and significant memory decline is the hallmark of the disease. Other forms of dementia; and dementia include: Fronto-temporal dementia, also called Pick's disease; vascular dementia; and dementia with Lewy bodies. These diseases have different characteristics and varying levels of severity. They also have different patterns of progression and treatment. Diagnosis of these disorders typically involves a neurological examination, neurophyschological testing and imaging of the brain through MRI and/or PET scan.
People with dementia can experience a range of symptoms in additona to cognitive difficulties, including depression, irritability, and anxiety. Demetia is often progressive so patients and families need ongoing help and support to maintain a high quality of life. Accurate diagnosis and ongoing treatment are essential to maximize treatment and good health.
Personalized Diagnosis, Treatment and Support
The UVA Memory and Aging Care Clinic (MACC) provides individualized, multidisciplinary care for people with dementia and other memory or cognitive disorders. We practice a team approach for providing expert diagnosis and treatment for patients and their families. Our goal is to attend to the changing needs of our patients and families. The treatment team includes neurologists, neuro-psychologists, a psychiatrist, a social worker, a nurse practitioner and a nurse coordinator.
Initially, care in our clinic is likely to involve several appointments, including a visit with the neuropsychology team for memory and cognitive testing and a second visit to see one of our neurologists. At the follow-up appointments, patients and family members will be seen by the members of the team who can best address their needs.
Services provided by the clinic include neurological consultation and medical management of dementia, neuropsychological evaluation, psychotherapy and access to medication trials. Patients are invited but not required to participate in a number of research studies.
We have an ongoing relationship with the Alzheimer’s Association and they provide onsite assistance to our patients. The clinic is located at the easily accessible UVA Fontaine Research Park. Patient parking is free at all UVA locations.