What happens when you visit a memory clinic?

Memory clinics are specialist centres that perform further diagnosis and memory tests, and provide support to people with dementia. Find out the key information you need to know about memory clinics, including why you might be asked to visit one and what will happen when you get there

When will I visit a memory clinic?

In most cases, you’ll visit a memory clinic after being referred by your GP. You may have already had a memory assessment from your doctor and he decided that you need to see experts who specialise in memory problems, such as psychologists, geriatricians or dementia specialist nurses. There are memory clinics throughout the country.

Why am I going to a memory clinic?

The idea behind a memory clinic is that it provides a more in-depth look at any memory problems you might be having. They can provide a diagnosis, offer treatment where appropriate and provide advice or put you in touch with services that might help you within the community. More importantly, they have plenty of experience and more time during the appointment than a GP might have to really get to the bottom of any issues.

How will I be assessed at a memory clinic?

During your visit to the memory clinic, you will normally be seen by a nurse, doctor or psychologist. You should bring someone along with you to the appointment such as a family member or friend as the doctor may also want to talk to them about any of your symptoms that they’ve noticed. You should bring your spectacles or hearing aid if you use them, as well as details of any medications that you are taking. The appointment can last around an hour.

The doctor will discuss any current or past medical problems as well as any memory problems you’ve encountered. They may get you to do some short tests to check your memory and thinking processes. We realise it can be daunting having to do tests and it’s easy to get stressed about them, but try not to as much as possible. They’re not trying to catch you out or show you up. They just want an accurate idea of how you’re coping.

What happens after visiting a memory clinic?

Depending on what facilities are available in the clinic, you may have other tests either there, or be referred to your nearest hospital’s neuropsychology unit for brain scans such as a CT or MRI scan.

At the end of the visit you will be told how you have done and if and when you need to be seen again. They will also send details of your test to your GP. You may be asked to come back to the clinic in a few months’ time for more follow-up tests.

If you’ve been diagnosed with dementia, the team may be able to prescribe medication , talking therapies and counselling, or support for life story work. Friends and loved ones who might be involved in your care going forward can also access information, advice and sometimes even training.