Occasionally forgetting things is a normal part of aging, according to UCCS experts.
But what’s normal – and what might be a more serious psychological problem – is often difficult to comprehend without assistance. That’s where the CU Aging Center and its memory clinic can help. On a sliding fee scale that ranges from $5 to $50, those more than 50 years of age can find out if what they are experiencing is typical or worthy of closer investigation.
“I had a client who was a successful 67-year-old business man,” said John Crumlin, assistant professor, CU Aging Center. “He retired but was bored so went back to work part-time. He came to us because he felt like he wasn’t catching on to the new job as fast as he thought he should and feared he might have Alzheimer’s disease.”
Crumlin’s client later learned his cognitive functions were above average for his age. He quit worrying about Alzheimer’s and applied himself to his new job.
The lever for releasing the client’s anxiety was a pencil and paper test that requires about an hour to complete and is conducted by psychology graduate students specializing in geropsychology. A staff psychologist reviews the results immediately following the test and provides feedback to the client, including any recommended actions.
While Crumlin likes to tell the story of the hardworking 67-year-old, he’s direct that not all test outcomes are positive. He cited as an example an 83-year-old woman who was referred to the clinic by a daughter worried about her mother’s forgetfulness and poor nutrition. The memory exam revealed depression and a recommendation for both medication and psychotherapy. In another case, fears of Alzheimer’s in a 61-year-old man were confirmed.
“The fear of Alzheimer’s alone can cause anxiety and its own set of problems,” Crumlin said. “It’s better to address those concerns and, when presented with information, take action.”
For the students administering the exams, the experience of working one-on-one with seniors is invaluable as they move from a theoretical base to helping people with practical, real-life issues.
Crumlin encouraged members, relatives and friends of the campus community who are more than 50 years of age to consider memory testing. Testing is recommended when there are:
- Concerns about memory loss
- Difficulties with daily responsibilities because of memory problems
- Family histories of Alzheimer’s or memory problems
- Changes in behavior, personality, mood or work habits
- Frequently misplaced important items, forgotten medications, instances of getting lost or making financial errors
- Desires to have a baseline test of current memory abilities.
For more information, call 471-4884 or visit http://www.uccs.edu/Documents/agingcenter/documents/Memory_Clinic.pdf .
The CU Aging Center is a nonprofit community clinic specializing in addressing daily living challenges, social problems and mental health needs unique to older adults. The clinic operates in association with the Clinical Geropsychology doctoral program.