Patient Care and Counseling
The Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Baylor College of Medicine adopts an evidence based approach to care for our patients. Persons seeking evaluation for memory or thinking difficulties are given a full battery of diagnostic tests, including lab studies, neuroimaging, neuropsychological evaluation, and a neurological evaluation. We adhere to nationally recognized standardized diagnostic criteria to establish a diagnosis and determine the severity of the condition. The evaluation also determines whether there are other medical conditions or secondary, non-cognitive features (e.g., behavioral changes, anxiety, agitation, sleep disturbance, agitation) contributing to the memory/thinking problems.
Our patients and family members receive the support of a multi-disciplinary team over the course of their illness. Similar to diabetes or heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and other progressive dementias are chronic health conditions which require periodic re-assessment and routine monitoring to ensure proper treatment. Our patients are seen at least yearly for a complete checkup, including a full neuropsychological assessment to determine their response to treatment and degree of stabilization or progression. Because we follow our patients closely and for such a long period of time, we are able to address the changing needs of both the patient and their family members.
To achieve our goal of providing comprehensive care, the ADMDC employs a full time psychologist who provides cognitive and behavioral strategies for addressing the psychosocial aspects of living with Alzheimer's disease and other memory disorders. These strategies can play a fundamental role in the care of persons with dementia and their family members and work synergistically with medication management to provide the best outcomes. Our psychologist has specialty postdoctoral fellowship training in both geropsychology and neuropsychology (view brochure for details).
The initial appointment with the psychologist, within the setting of the ADMDC, is intended to educate patients and families about the diagnosis, provide strategies for building on cognitive strengths to compensate for limitations, and identify factors influencing immediate and long-term management of the disease in order to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. It is an opportunity to openly discuss the diagnosis and associated concerns of all present.
Additionally, appointments can be scheduled between the time of the initial visit and the annual check-up to address specific issues such as adjustment to diagnosis, behavioral changes (e.g., loss of initiative, apathy versus depression, sleep difficulties, restlessness, agitation), caregiver distress, crisis management, residential or emergency/short term placement, and difficult transitions (e.g., stopping driving, hiring home help). Some patients and family members return for individual or family counseling because they are experiencing interpersonal conflicts, individual circumstances, or practical barriers which are preventing them from carrying out the prescribed treatment plan.