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Memory & Dementia Evaluations

Image by Moritz Kindler

Are the memory problems your loved one is experiencing just “a normal part of aging”?  What is causing these memory problems?  Can anything be done about it? These are some of the questions that a neuropsychological evaluation can answer.  Memory problems may be caused by a variety of medical or psychological conditions.  A correct diagnosis is important for determining a treatment plan.  Although many people may assume an older loved one’s memory problems are due to Alzheimer’s Disease, 50% are actually caused by other issues that may be treatable.  Even those with Alzheimer’s Disease can have a better quality of life if they are connected with the appropriate resources.

Problems with memory and other areas of thinking, including language, visual processing, attention, and organization, may be seen in a number of disorders other than Alzheimer’s Disease.  Here is a partial list:

  • Vascular Disease, also sometimes described as “mini-strokes" or "TIA's"

  • Parkinson’s Disease

  • Huntington’s Disease

  • HIV / AIDS

  • Frontotemporal Degeneration, including Pick’s Disease

  • Mild Cognitive Impairment


A neuropsychological evaluation can aid with diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment planning.  Depending on what is causing the memory problems, treatment options may include anything from medication to therapy to maintaining an active lifestyle both physically and mentally.

What Is Assessed?

A typical memory/dementia evaluation may involve assessment of the following:

  • Aspects of intellect and general ability

  • Higher level executive skills (e.g., sequencing, reasoning, problem solving)

  • Attention and concentration

  • Learning and memory

  • Language, word-finding, and verbal fluency

  • Visual–spatial skills (e.g., perception)

  • Cognitive processing skills

  • Mood and personality

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's

The Cleveland Clinic-Health Library

UC-San Francisco Memory and Aging Center

Lewy Body Dementia Symptom Checklist

What Does a Memory/Dementia Evaluation Involve?

  1. Comprehensive clinical interview

  2. When present, background information from a spouse, family member, or other individual accompanying the patient

  3. Review of relevant records (e.g., medical, neurological, or psychiatric records)

  4. Neuropsychological testing


Following the evaluation, the examiner writes a summary report that integrates the findings from testing with your history and self-report. This report includes a thorough conceptualization of your symptoms and findings from testing as well as recommendations that may aid you and your providers in treatment planning. Treatment recommendations are tailored to an individual’s particular profile of strengths and challenges.


For more detailed information regarding neuropsychological evaluations, refer to 

Clinical Neuropsychology
A Guide for Patients and Their Families
from the American Psychological Association

View or download this pamphlet as a PDF file


What If It’s Not Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Guide to Dementia This book provides a wealth of information on what to expect from your family member, how to cope, and how to plan ahead whether your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease or another memory disorder.

Dementia Caregivers Share Their Stories: A Support Group in a Book Caregiver support is one of the most effective tools to improving quality of life for everyone in the family.  If you don’t care for yourself, you won’t be able to care for your loved one!

Alzheimer’s Association An excellent resource for information and caregiver support.

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

Lewy Body Dementia Association

Family Caregiver Alliance supports and sustains the important work of families nationwide caring for loved ones with chronic, disabling health conditions.

Brain exercises delay mental declineThe science behind the fact that using your brain will help maintain your memory for longer.

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