Memory can be elusive, wonderful and sometimes fleeting, but how do you know when forgetfulness is something to be concerned about?
The answer, according to Holliston resident Jocelyn Winzer, PhD, isn't a simple one. Winzer is a team member of the new memory center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge.
“The Memory Center offers comprehensive, multi-disciplinary memory evaluations and individualized cognitive assessment for aging adults who have concerns about their memory and mental clarity,” a press release reads. “ The Center consists of a team of Geriatricians, Neuropsychologists and a Social Worker led by Dr. John Anderson, Chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine."
Winzer has been a neuropsychologist since 2006.
“Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to memory,” Winzer explained. “We have developed a multi-disciplinary approach that allows us to run a comprehensive program and decrease the wait time of testing for concerned patients.”
Winzer is responsible for asking a group of questions and administering a bunch of pen and paper tests to determine if the problem is memory, depression or normal aging.
“People feel like they are back in school when they come to me,” Winzer said.
Her tests look at memory, language, attention and executive function among other things.
“We are trying to rule certain things out,” Winzer said. “Depression in older adults will often mimic dementia. There is also some normal memory loss with age. For example, it is normal to sometimes forget names, but when you start to have trouble driving or with medication that is a cause for concern."
Mt. Auburn works in conjunction with the Quimby Center for Geriatric Care.
“You would start with either your primary care doctor or at the Quimby Center,” Winzer explained. “After the testing, you would be sent to Mt. Auburn. From here we treat, refer people out, or send them to other in-house departments.”
“We are seeing a big demand as the population is aging,” Winzer said. “We work a lot as a team and we communicate constantly about our patients. We do a lot of brainstorming to determine the best course of treatment for the patient.”
It is important to note that 50 percent of the population will experience some form of memory loss by the age of 85.
“It has become more and more crucial to serve a growing aging population with services such as these,” said Jeanette Clough, President and CEO of Mount Auburn Hospital. “Our memory assessment team is committed to supporting both patients and families who face memory impairment and cognitive decline.”
Winzer notes that there are many ways to help memory.
“People ask me all the time how to keep their memory sharp,” Winzer said. “The most important thing is to stay active; not just physically, but mentally as well. Do something new to challenge the brain: learn line dancing, try a new recipe, play a new game. It is also important to stay on top of your health and reduce stress.”
For more information or to set up an appointment contact the Quimby Center for Geriatric Care at 617-868-0847.