Memory Disorders

Dr. Mabel Lopez has a subspecialty in geriatric neuropsychology and memory disorders.  She will work closely with your referring physician as part of a multidisciplinary team helping you through the processes of evaluation your (or your loved one’s) memory.

Person’s over the age of 65 years should have adequate baselines of their brain behaviors, particularly memory because they are at high risks for diseases of aging such as “Dementia” (also known as “Major Neurocognitive Disorder”).  Dementia is a syndrome of gradual onset and continuing decline of higher cognitive functioning (memory, attention, visuospatial skills, language, reasoning skills, etc), which affects ability to carry out activities of daily living (e.g., managing finances). Dementia is a common disorder in older persons and becomes more prevalent in each decade of life. Approximately 10 percent of adults 65 years and older, and 50 percent of adults older than 90 years, have dementia. These numbers should NOT be ignored.

It is common for older patients to present to family physicians with concerns of memory loss and impossible to tell whether it is normal aging of a more serious condition, such as dementia, without proper testing. Further, the “type” of dementia (i.e., the disease that is causing the cognitive disorder) must be determined.  Neuroimaging is often not enough because it shows up as negative or “normal” because common diseases that cause dementia, such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease, are microscopic and metabolic in nature and very difficult to capture on standard CTs and MRIs. Neuropsychological evaluation is the golden standard for differential diagnosis of dementia (i.e., determining the type of dementia a person has), along with a comprehensive medical check up to rule out reversible conditions such as vitamin deficiencies or static a condition such as a stroke. With an accurate and timely diagnosis of dementia, appropriate therapies can be initiated to reduce further cognitive decline.

Neuropsychological evaluation can differentiate the cognitive deficits associated with dementias due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) as distinct from age-associated cognitive decline. Conditions that are prodromal to dementia, such as Mild Cognitive Impairment (now known as “Minor Neurocognitive Disorder”) can also be determined, which helps in assessing future risk for conversion into dementia.

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