What is a Memory Clinic?
Memory clinics were first described in the US in the 1980s and the first clinic opened in Ireland in 1991. Their purpose is the "identification, investigation and treatment of memory disorders including dementia" (Jolley et al, 2006). In Ireland, there is a lack of uniformity in the services that they provide and the specialisms of the health professionals involved and so memory clinics can vary widely in both their composition and the type of services provided.
All would strive to make timely diagnoses and provide treatment where appropriate and they would also aim to identify and treat health problems other than dementia that may be causing the client difficulties. Memory clinics also play an important role in reassuring those who are worried about their memory when there are no problems to be found.
The timely diagnosis of dementia allows not only for appropriate treatments to commence, but also provides an opportunity to offer important information and advice on a range of issues such as financial and legal affairs, to accessing support services. It also enables the person experiencing symptoms to be more proactive in lifestyle decision-making and planning his or her own future care.
Memory clinics may also provide post-diagnostic counselling and emotional support for people newly diagnosed. Some clinics offer the opportunity to become involved in research such as drug trials and lifestyle intervention studies.
Numbers and locations of Irish Memory Clinics
There are currently 25 memory clinics in Ireland across 13 counties in Ireland.
How to access Memory Clinic services
Anyone can avail of a Memory Clinic service. However, most clinics only accept referrals from GPs or other medical doctors. Most Memory Clinics cater to people of all ages and many will also assess people with an intellectual disability.