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NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL ASESSMENT SERVICES
A dementia evaluation may be warranted when an older adult, family member, or physician becomes aware that the older individual is showing signs of cognitive difficulties, such as impaired short-term memory. Dementia is defined as a disturbance in memory functioning and one other area of cognition, such as language. There are many different types of dementia, and the condition can be progressive, as in the case of Alzheimers Disease, or static, such as when associated with a brain injury from a car accident.
It is normal for older adults to begin experiencing minor difficulties with memory or word finding abilities as they age. However, these difficulties sometimes become progressively worse, where the individual becomes easily confused or finds him/herself getting lost in familiar surroundings. When an older adult develops cognitive problems, it is important first to obtain a comprehensive medical evaluation from his or her health care provider to rule out any reversible causes of impaired cognition, such as infection, medication toxicity, or nutritional deficiency. When these conditions have been ruled out, it is then appropriate to request a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation to determine if the individual may be suffering from dementia.
Neuropsychological evaluation should be carried out by a psychologist who has specialty training in Neuropsychology. A comprehensive dementia evaluation should examine a wide range of cognitive abilities, including memory, orientation, attention, language, visual-spatial ability, executive functioning, and praxis (the ability to use tools). Assessment instruments and demographic information is helpful in comparing current functioning with estimated pre-morbid intellectual abilities. Patterns of performance on tests that measure these abilities can help to determine if the person has developed dementia, along with providing hints as to the type of dementia from which the individual is suffering. It is also important that the older adult be evaluated for depression, as this condition can mimic the symptoms of dementia. Sometimes, depression and dementia co-occur, in which case the individual should receive appropriate treatment for both the depressive symptoms and the dementia condition.
In the case of dementia, it is important to periodically re-evaluate the individuals cognitive abilities with neuropsychological testing after the initial diagnosis is made. Re-evaluation should occur every nine months or so to determine if the condition is progressive and to document the course of the disease. These evaluations can assist the physician in determining the older adults response to any treatment that may have been prescribed. Finally, repeat evaluations can assist the family and physician in making decisions regarding living arrangements for the older adult who is in more advanced stages of the disease.
Seniors not involved in accident claims or other litigation or disability claims are eligible for our memory-disorder-clinic services. We recommend referral through a neurologist, though self-referral is accepted and we can refer to a neurologist if neurological studies have not been completed. Unfortunately due to drastic cuts and limitations posed by the health care "system" we no longer are accepting Medicare patients. We do offer forensic neuropsychological evaluation of dementia in competency or guardianship evaluations. These are not covered by insurance.
To learn more about dementia and resources try visiting our acclaimed NeuropsychologyCentral website.
For readings, software programs and websites that offer suggestions for help with memory problems try our Memory Problem Help page.
Clinical Psychology Associates of North Central Florida offers a variety of neuropsychological assessment services including neuropsychological assessment of childhood neurodevelopmental or neuroloigcal disorders, child adolescent and adult brain injuries, memory problems in adults, and neuropsych assessment of dementia in adults.
Please call (352) 336-2888 for information about this or any of our programs. We are dedicated to providing quality psychological assessment, consultation, & treatment services to the North Central Florida Community.
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