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Quality treatment and support for memory loss and dementia

When you or someone you love has memory loss or dementia, each day can bring new challenges. Whether the memory loss is due to dementia or something else, we’re here for you and your family with the latest treatment options and compassionate support every step of the way.

At our dedicated Center for Memory and Aging within the HealthPartners Neuroscience Center, our researchers and care teams are working to advance the understanding and treatment of memory and cognitive disorders to improve the lives of our patients. We offer state of the art diagnostic tests, comprehensive treatment methods and therapies to improve symptoms, enhance independence and allow patients to continue living a full life.

At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, our experienced team of board-certified neurologists, neuropsychologists, social workers and specialized nurses work closely to provide you and your family seamless care and support. From providing an efficient and accurate diagnosis, to creating a dementia care plan and connecting you to clinical trials, we’re here to support you throughout your journey.

Memory loss conditions we treat

We provide all the support you need to understand a new diagnosis and manage memory loss disorders. Some of the conditions we treat are:

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) takes the form of mild but measurable changes in thinking abilities on formal cognitive testing. These changes will be noticeable to you as well as family members and friends. However, people with MCI are still able to carry out everyday activities (such as driving, managing medications, and cooking). Like other forms of cognitive impairment, MCI causes problems with memory, judgment, thinking and language that are greater than the usual difficulties brought on by aging.

MCI may increase your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in the future. Our doctors can help you understand whether you’re experiencing MCI or another type of memory loss, and the best steps to take.

Dementia

Dementia refers to a condition where cognitive decline results in a reduced ability to perform everyday tasks and activities. You may be diagnosed with a specific form of dementia, but no one is diagnosed with the general term “dementia” without noting the specific type.

Some forms of dementia are caused by other health conditions and may be reversible. Other forms are a progression of cognitive impairment that will continue over time, but medications and therapies are available to help manage symptoms.

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association reports there are an estimated 5.8 million Americans living with the disease each year. Similar to other forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disrupts parts of the brain responsible for memory and judgement.

The disease damages brain cells through two types of abnormalities that doctors refer to as plaques and tangles. Plaques and tangles are clumps and strings of proteins that block the communication between cells and can severely damage the cell.

The cause of Alzheimer’s remains unknown, but age is the most common risk factor: 32% of people age 85 and older have Alzheimer’s dementia. Research shows that there is a genetic link in certain families and that environmental and lifestyle factors may also play a role. Promising research and treatment advancements are happening all the time helping patients to live fuller lives.

Other memory loss conditions we treat
  • Autoimmune dementia
  • Corticobasal syndrome
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)
  • Frontotemporal dementia (FTD)
  • HIV dementia
  • Korsakoff's syndrome
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • Parkinson’s disease dementia
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy
  • Transient global amnesia
  • Vascular dementia
Symptoms

We’re all forgetful from time to time. It’s normal to lose things, miss a monthly payment or say the wrong word by mistake, especially as we age. But if you or someone you care about is experiencing new or increased symptoms of memory loss or cognitive impairment, it’s important to know the warning signs of dementia and related conditions.

Here are some common signs of memory loss disorders:

  • Frequently forgetting or mixing up common words
  • New problems writing or carrying on a conversation
  • Getting lost while in a familiar area
  • Misplacing things and having difficulty retracing steps to find them
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Challenges in problem solving, planning or decision making
  • Mood or personality changes

If you have concerns about your memory or comprehension and haven’t talked to a doctor yet, we recommend starting with a visit to one of our primary care doctors. Our primary care doctors are experienced in diagnosing and treating hundreds of health conditions and can help you get answers quickly. If your care requires additional expertise, your primary doctor will connect you directly to one of our neurologists.

Diagnosis

The idea that you or a loved one may be facing memory loss or dementia can feel overwhelming. You might be tempted to put off going to the doctor, or your loved one may not want to go. It’s very important to get a prompt diagnosis so your doctor can begin developing a personalized treatment plan that may help slow or reverse symptoms as soon as possible.

To arrive at an accurate diagnosis, doctors will want to learn about your health history and do some cognitive question-and-answer style tests to get an understanding of your thinking, reasoning, orientation and attention skills. We will also do a neurological test to evaluate your language, memory, movement and balance skills.

Blood tests and advanced brain-imaging tests may also be ordered to help identify whether your symptoms are being caused by other health conditions.

Diagnosing conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders can be challenging. Doctors must look for subtle signs and patterns that follow the typical loss of skills and function associated with the disease. No matter what is causing your symptoms, we’ll work to find you timely answers and begin developing a treatment plan that allows you or your loved one to live fully.

If you’re diagnosed with a memory loss disorder, we’ll be here to help you understand everything you need to know about the condition and work with you to create an empowering treatment plan. We have support groups, educational programs and many community events that offer continued resources for you and your family.

Treatment

Many health conditions can cause symptoms of memory loss, and some of them are reversible. These include emotional disorders, stress, sleep disorders, alcoholism, head injuries, medications, B12 deficiency and hypothyroidism. If your doctor determines one of these is causing your memory loss, we’ll recommend treatment for the condition that’s causing your symptoms.

Our team of experienced neurologists, neuropsychologists and other specialists are experts in treating and supporting individuals with memory loss. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are treated with very similar methods, primarily through medications and lifestyle interventions.

Medications

Doctors most commonly prescribe cholinesterase inhibitors for dementia. These medicines work by increasing levels of a chemical messenger in the brain that’s responsible for memory and judgment.

Doctors may also prescribe additional medications to help with other symptoms like depression, agitation or sleep problems.

Clinical trials

Many of our patients and families find hope in the latest clinical trials. We strive to better understand how to best treat and, one day, cure memory loss. We’ve studied the effects of intranasal therapeutics to improve memory in a variety of cognitive disorders. Please visit the Center for Memory and Aging for more information about our clinical trials.

Rehabilitation and support

We offer rehabilitation services, including physical, occupational, speech and music therapy, as well as exercise classes and many other special programs to help you or your loved one manage symptoms, prevent falls and live well.

Working with our experienced therapists, patients and their caregivers can learn to manage evolving behaviors, simplify daily tasks and make the home safer from accidents and falls. We also help patients and their loved ones prepare for the progression of dementia and develop positive coping strategies.

We also offer psychological resources and skill classes to help families and caregivers with continued support and education.

Getting started Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Dementia is any progressive cognitive disorder resulting in loss of social or occupational function. Dementia is not part of normal aging. The term “dementia“ is used to refer to a variety of diseases and conditions that develop when nerve cells in the brain die or fail to function normally, causing changes in memory, behavior, cognition, and ultimately, every day function. Many types of conditions can lead to dementia, from alcoholism to Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a disorder that specifically targets memory. Alzheimer’s disease is a slowly progressive memory disorder (4-20 years in duration), but individuals can still engage in meaningful activities, particularly in the mild to moderate stage. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of cases.

We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.

Not sure what your insurance covers? Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.

Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are member services numbers to help you get started: