“Minor memory issues are a normal part of aging,” says Dr. Mark Van Etten. “But serious memory problems are not. At the Memory Clinic, we can help you sort out the differences. And if things are changing, there are some real benefits to finding out sooner rather than later.”
Here at Spooner Health, Dr. Van Etten is the Medical Director; he also leads our Memory Clinic program. He emphasizes that knowledge is a powerful thing. “First, it lets you do some advanced planning. Second, it lets you take better advantage of the time you have left. Maybe it’s time to stop putting off your cruise to Alaska, or that trip to Europe. Go while you can still enjoy it.”
“Most of all,” he emphasizes, “once you know what you’re dealing with, you can stay safe and get the help you need. Denial, on the other hand, isn’t going to make it go away.”
Dr. Van Etten explained that the drugs currently available don’t help everyone. What’s more, they only slow the process; they can’t reverse it. Still, they can sometimes allow people to remain independent and stay safe in their own homes for much longer.
He also described promising new drugs that are still in clinical trials; some could become available in just the next few years. “If there is a breakthrough,” he said, “and if we know about you, then we can give you a call.”
When it’s time, the Memory Clinic can help people make more informed choices about driving, adaptations that make it safer to continue living at home, and other important decisions. They can also put people in touch with helpful services in the community.
Although most referrals come from family members or a doctor; sometimes people just call and schedule an appointment for themselves. “It’s not a big, scary ordeal,” says Dr. Van Etten. “We start with a one-hour assessment that involves various memory tests and quizzes. Meanwhile, we also interview family members to ask about their observations.”
“Then, in a second hour, we talk with the patient and family members about what we’ve learned. We also go over some of the medical factors that could be contributing to the situation. Certain medications, for example, can sometimes interfere with memory and cognition. Finally, we talk about what additional tests and follow-up might be appropriate. The whole session only takes a couple hours.”
If you would like to schedule an assessment at the Memory Clinic, or if you would just like to find out more information, call (715) 939-1687. Please leave a message, and we’ll call you back.