What You Should Know About a Neuropsychological Evaluation at Methodist
Published: Aug. 1, 2019
Neuropsychology. There’s a word you don’t hear every day. If and when you do, it may cause some confusion.
Simply put, it’s the study of how the brain and nervous system affect behavior and cognition.
As a neuropsychologist at the Methodist Geriatric Assessment Clinic, I’m part of a team focused on the diagnosis and treatment of cognitive and age-related health concerns.
Here’s what you should know if you or a loved one are scheduled for a neuropsychological evaluation at the clinic.
Signs an evaluation may be helpful
The Geriatric Assessment Clinic is led by fellowship-trained geriatric physicians and includes social workers and a pharmacist. Our focus is on helping adults with known or suspected cognitive changes due to dementia, stroke, injury, neurological disease or other causes. After receiving a referral from a Methodist Physicians Clinic primary care provider, we conduct a thorough assessment to determine if your changes are related to normal aging, disease or illness, the effects of medication, or psychological factors.
You may benefit from our services if you have experienced:
- Memory loss
- Multiple medical conditions
- Social/psychological issues
- Weight loss
- Decline in or a lack of independent functioning
- Safety concerns
Expect an individualized approach
The assessment is an individualized process that’s just as much about us getting to know you as it is testing your abilities.
We’ll gather a thorough patient history that includes your medical history and current medications. We also like to get input from family members or caregivers, as their perspective can be valuable. The more information we can gather about how you’re doing day to day, the better.
The assessment also includes a neuropsychological evaluation. That may sound intimidating, but you can rest easy – it’s nothing like taking a test in school. There’s nothing to study for, and there are no grades,
The evaluation includes tasks designed to determine how the brain is functioning.
Areas we assess include:
- Attention and concentration
- Higher level thinking skills
- Language functioning
- Visual processing
The evaluation also helps us screen for things like depression and anxiety, which can have an impact on thinking.
Our goal is to get a complete picture of what may be affecting your thinking. But you shouldn’t feel intimidated or stressed. We want our patients to know that we’re there first and foremost to listen. We’re committed to finding solutions that meet each patient’s unique situation.
Recommendations for treatment
The Geriatric Assessment Clinic is just one part a care team that includes your primary care provider and often family, close friends and specialists.
Sometimes there are strategies we can immediately implement, such as activities to help with memory and concentration, but the clinic’s main focus is assessing, not treating, cognitive issues and their causes.
After your assessment, we may offer recommendations for your primary care provider. Together, you can decide if seeing a specialist, beginning therapy or pursuing other services is appropriate.
What we stress to our patients is that keeping them as independent as possible is our primary goal. Many times, making tweaks and accommodations to their daily routine are very effective in helping them stay active and independent.
We’re here to help
Experiencing cognitive changes for any reason can be frightening and confusing. But you don’t have to work through them alone. If you think you may benefit from an assessment at the Geriatric Assessment Clinic, talk to your Methodist Physicians Clinic primary care provider.