WHAT IS A MEMORY ASSESSMENT (NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT)?
What people commonly refer to as a Memory Assessment in clinical psychology terms is a Neuropsychological Assessment or Cognitive Assessment. These not only assess a person's performance on memory tasks but also on a range of other cognitive functions. They also examine a variety of other factors likely to affect memory. This is important as true memory problems do not generally occur in isolation. Also, memory can be affected by many things including stress, anxiety, depression, certain medical and neurological conditions, after a head injury, medications etc. It can also naturally deteriorate as we get older. Often people worry about their lapses in memory but what they are witnessing are merely normal age related changes. For others with actual identified problems a cause can be identified and the problem rectified quite easily and quickly. Thus enabling the person to return to normal functioning. In other cases the memory deficits may not be temporary and reversible but there still may be ways in which the person can develop new techniques to compensate for their memory loss.
WHAT DOES A MEMORY ASSESSMENT INVOLVE?
A Memory Assessment involves:
Assessment of memory and other cognitive functions
Feedback of results and advice on coping with, or managing,
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?
It is difficult to say how long an assessment will take as it depends on the reason for assessment, how complex the situation is, how able the person is to perform the tests and how quickly they do so. As a rough estimate I would plan to allocate a morning or afternoon to an assessment. However, it can be a tiring process and for some people it may be best for the interview and testing to be carried out on separate occasions. The feedback session would be approximately an hour and a half to allow time to have a full discussion of results and coping strategies.
CAN I BRING SOMEONE WITH ME?
Some people like to have someone accompany them to their assessment. They may be anxious or have difficulty recalling the problems they have been experiencing. The person accompanying them can provide useful information about this if they are someone who knows them well and has observed changes occurring. It can also be helpful for them to be present when results and advice are being given as they will be able to help the person being assessed remember what has been said to them.
It is best that the person accompanying a client is not present during testing as this can be a distraction and affect performance on tests.
It should be stressed though that a Psychologist will never speak with anyone about you without first getting your permission to do so
HOW WILL HAVING A MEMORY ASSESSMENT HELP?
WHAT WILL A PSYCHOLOGIST GET FROM MEMORY ASSESSMENT RESULTS?
When a Psychologist looks at results from memory assessments they first want to see whether or not there is actually a problem with memory. Because memory is not a single thing a Psychologist will look to see what parts of the process of making, storing and retrieving a memory are working and which have broken down. They will also look to see what types of memory a person is having problems with e.g. short term, long term, memory for things you hear or those you see etc..
Performance on tasks assessing other cognitive functions such as concentration/attention, will give a clue as to how these are impacting on memory.
Other things which can affect memory are then considered e.g. depression, anxiety, stress, medical conditions, medication etc.
At the end of this the Psychologist has a picture of where problems exist, what is working well, what isn't and what things are contributing to the memory loss a person is experiencing. With this understanding advice on coping with memory problems can be given.
WHO TENDS TO HAVE A MEMORY ASSESSMENT?
Anyone who is very worried about their memory can have an assessment here though it might be worthwhile to first see your GP to rule out any medical cause which when treated will restore memory functioning.
Anyone who has a family history of memory problems and worries that they too have them e.g. where there is a family history of dementia.
Anyone who has had a head injury, stroke, or other neurological condition who has been struggling with day to day activities or with holding down their job.
WHY CHOOSE US FOR MEMORY ASSESSMENT
Memory Assessments of this type are not routinely offered in the NHS in Northern Ireland or surprisingly in memory clinics.
The assessment offered is thorough.
The assessment is carried out by Dr Pauline Thomson. She has almost 18 years post-qualification experience of carrying out these assessments and providing people with advice on managing their cognitive problems. She also has over 12 years experience of setting up and developing services for people with dementia and has worked with people who have had strokes and other neurological conditions.
FURTHER INFORMATION / ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT
If you would like further information or wish to arrange an appointment please contact Dr Pauline Thomson at MAPT.