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The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program provides ongoing care for patients with a dementia diagnosis. Call 310-319-3222 to learn more about dementia care at UCLA Health.
Welcome to the Memory Evaluation Program of UCLA Geriatric Medicine. Our aim is to provide you and your family with a comprehensive memory evaluation and answer your questions and concerns about Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. We see patients age 65 years or over who are experiencing difficulties in remembering and/or thinking. Our offices are located in Westwood and Santa Monica. Call (310) 319-4371 to schedule an assessment.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is the term that doctors use to describe conditions that result in the disruption of the brain's memory and thinking functions. It is a broad term that covers several different brain conditions that have in common a decline in one's
mental abilities. Dementia is a progressive condition that left untreated will result in loss of a person's ability to remember, think, reason and eventually, to independently perform activities of daily living.
Memory Evaluation & Assessment
Are you concerned about your memory or that of a loved-one? If you notice ANY of the following 10 warning signs* of possible Alzheimer's disease, consider having a memory evaluation:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
*From the Alzheimer's Association
How is Alzheimer's disease different from Dementia?
Alzheimer's disease is only one form of dementia, albeit the most common form, accounting for about 7 out of 10 cases of dementia. The relationship between the terms 'dementia' and 'Alzheimer's' is similar to that of the terms 'color' and 'blue', i.e. blue is only one among many colors, and Alzheimer's is only one type of dementia. Stated another way, all Alzheimer's disease patients have dementia, but not all people who have dementia have Alzheimer's disease (although most of them do).
How do I know if my memory difficulty is due to aging or if I'm starting to have Alzheimer's disease?
The brain, like all organs of the body, undergoes changes with age. Consequently, as a person gets older, he or she will experience some slowing of the speed of information processing and other mental functions. However, becoming forgetful is not a normal part of aging. Oftentimes, the most accurate way to distinguish between normal cognitive changes with aging and early Alzheimer's disease is by undergoing a memory evaluation by a physician trained in dementia diagnosis.
Preparing for Your Visit
A pre-visit questionnaire will be mailed to you in order for us to get to know you better. Please bring the completed form to your first appointment, as the information you provide will be an important part of the evaluation. If you do not get this questionnaire at least a week prior to your scheduled visit, please give us a call at (310) 319-4371.
Make sure to bring any old medical records and the results of brain scans or films (MRI, CT, PET, SPECT) from previous evaluations to your first clinic appointment. This will facilitate your assessment and may save considerable expense. Please request your referring doctor to fax records to us (ATTN: Memory Evaluation Program) prior to your appointment at (310) 794-2113.
Important: Please make sure that a family member or a friend/significant other who can provide information on your memory as well as your past history accompanies you to your visit.
What to Expect
You will be in the office approximately 1½ hours on your first visit. A physician who is an expert in memory disorders will evaluate you.
The evaluation includes a review of your medical history and family history, tests of memory and language, a physical examination and a neurological examination. Additional members of our team may assist in interviewing you and the family member or friend who comes with you.
It may not be possible to complete the evaluation in a single visit, especially when further testing such as brain scans, blood tests and/or neuropsychological tests are needed. Your physician will discuss with you about future visits to complete the evaluation.
Grace I. Chen, MD
Dr. Grace Chen is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles. She is the Lead Physician of the Santa Monica Geriatrics clinic. Dr. Chen is a clinician and educator. She has a fulltime outpatient clinic where she is the primary care provider for her Geriatric patients. Her other clinical responsibility includes attending on the inpatient geriatric service at UCLA.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at (310) 319-4371 and ask for the Memory Evaluation Program coordinator.