Dementia describes a condition when losses of important functions of the brain interfere with a person’s usual activities. These functions include memory, language, and the ability to make decisions. These symptoms can be caused by many diseases, but Alzheimer’s disease is the most common one among older adults. Like Huntington’s and Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that destroys nerve cells in the brain. This damage disrupts the ability to think and reason and may impact social abilities as well. The effects of dementia can affect normal day-to-day functions, as well as social behaviors and mood or personality.

Other symptoms of dementia include confusion, memory loss, and not being able to remember simple instructions, names, directions, or recent events. Although memory loss often is associated with dementia, it does not mean that all loss is caused by or related to dementia. There is no cure for dementia, except in rare cases when it’s caused by treatable conditions such as alcohol or drug abuse, hormone imbalances, or severe depression.

UAB Medicine’s Brain Aging & Memory Clinic, located on the 5th Floor of the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital, was created to care for people with memory problems, thinking problems, or other complex issues related to degeneration in the brain. These conditions are often complex, so the clinic uses a team approach that includes neurologists, nurse practitioners, and nurses, with support from nurse care managers, pharmacy specialists, social workers, and other professionals. The clinic’s goal is to maximize the well-being of our patients and their families, using medications as well as non-medical strategies.

Every clinic patient is assigned a physician and a nurse practitioner. We start with a full patient history and mental testing, which may be followed by laboratory tests, imaging studies (like CT, MRI, or PET scans), and more detailed mental assessments called neuropsychological testing. Results of these tests will help determine a care plan.

Patients also may be referred to experts in other areas, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, sleep specialists, and pain management specialists. Follow-up visits may include reviewing test results, assessing current abilities, reviewing medications, and discussing the care plan. The clinic also cooperates in conducting research studies to learn more about treating and managing memory disorders, so patients may have access to treatments not available at most other medical centers.

To make an appointment with the Brain Aging & Memory Clinic, please call 205-801-8986 or request an appointment online.

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