To detect memory loss early:
Ask all your patients over 55 about their memory functioning
Also ask a close relative such as the spouse if available. Consider the following issues:
Memory complaints: Memory complaints are indicators of memory problems and are often signs of early cognitive loss. They should be taken seriously.
- Rationalization: Patients will often rationalize their memory loss by attributing it to normal aging. This is often a sign of a problem and should be identified.
- Family Concern: Family members’ concern for their loved one’s memory will often arise in the mild to moderate stages of memory-loss. These concerns should be taken very seriously because they are often a sign of progressed disease.
- Short Screen Insensitivity: Patients with early stage memory loss will often score normally on common physician administered screens. These screens are often insensitive to early stage memory loss. A loss of more than one or two points on a screen should be taken as a warning sign.
Identify physical risk factors for memory disease
These risk factors include:
- Family history of dementia
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Head Injury
- Changes in sleep and/or weight
If the patient is experiencing any of the issues discussed above, especially when combined with a physical risk factor, a referral to MARS Memory-Health Network for a diagnostic assessment is indicated.
Remember, early referral allows for early detection. Early detection provides the patient a distinct treatment advantage.