Comprehensive Memory Center

UT Health Austin’s Comprehensive Memory Center provides evaluation and treatment for adult patients (18 years and older) who are living with neurodegenerative conditions that impact memory, behavior, and other cognitive functions. The Comprehensive Memory Center’s mission is to put patients and their loved ones at the center of the patient’s care to help families live their best lives, have hope, and know that they are not alone.

Many answers to the questions you have about the Comprehensive Memory Center, caregiver support, and dementia can be found below.

    Comprehensive Memory Center

    At UT Health Austin, we focus the whole patient, making sure patients and their caregivers have the support they need throughout the patient’s care. We take a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, meaning patients and their caregivers will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines. This multidisciplinary, coordinated care model makes it easier for patients and their caregivers to get the care they need without having to make multiple trips to various locations. We also collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to connect patients and their caregivers with the research opportunities.

    Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, values, and beliefs. Working with the patient and their caregiver, the Comprehensive Memory Center care team creates an individualized care plan to help the patient and their caregiver reach the goals that matter most. Treatment plans commonly include medications, care management, family or individual counseling, cognitive-communication therapy, community resources, and follow-up visits.

    The Comprehensive Memory Center is patient-centered and aims to achieve the highest healthcare value for the patient. Research shows that it typically takes the average patient anywhere from months to years to receive a diagnosis once they first make their symptoms known to a medical provider. We conducted a focus group to better understand the barriers patients and their caregivers face when navigating the healthcare system. Many identified frustrations involved the lack of care coordination and confusion surrounding the healthcare system. Our multidisciplinary care model not only helps reduce the number of visits patients and their caregivers would otherwise be required to schedule across multiple medical facilities, but also improves efficiency of evaluation and treatment by having multidisciplinary staff available in one location as well as on-site advanced imaging, labs, and neuropsychological testing.

    Our approach to care is unique in its strong emphasis on involving both the patient and their caregiver in all aspects of the patient’s care. One of the distinctive characteristics of the Comprehensive Memory Center is our acknowledgement of the patient’s loved ones and other caregivers as valuable members of the patient’s care team. We understand that caregiving can have significant impacts on caregivers’ health, which is why we monitor both the patient and their caregiver for anxiety, depression, and other stressors. We also offer caregiver support services to address caregiver burden and provide assistance with community resources, long-term care planning, and more.

    The Comprehensive Memory Center care team includes neurologists, a geriatric psychiatrist, neuropsychologists, nurses, a speech-language pathologist, social workers, and more, who work together to help patients and their caregivers get back to the things in their lives that matter most.

    The Comprehensive Memory Center provides diagnostic evaluation and evidence-based treatments for adults (usually older) with the following:

    The Comprehensive Memory Center supports patients by providing disease education, cognitive-communication therapy, and counseling services as well as assistance with practicing communication strategies, discussing legal documents, navigating long-term care options, identifying resources in the community. If interested, patients may also be eligible to participate in research studies.

    Changes in memory, thinking, or behavior that are concerning to the patient, loved ones, caregivers, or anyone else who knows the patient well.

    Symptoms may include:

    • Challenges in planning or solving problems
    • Changes in mood and personality
    • Confusion with time or place
    • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
    • Losing the ability to retrace steps
    • Memory loss or forgetfulness
    • Misplacing things
    • Poor judgment
    • Problems with words in speaking or writing
    • Trouble understanding spatial relationships
    • Withdrawal from work or social activities

    Yes, a referral is required by the patient’s primary care doctor, neurologist, or psychiatrist. Once the Comprehensive Memory Center receives a referral from the patient’s referring provider, members of the Comprehensive Memory Center care team will identify any existing records of treatment in the UT Health Austin system and communicate with the patient’s referring provider to obtain any needed medical records and other information. If the patient has received medical treatment from a provider other than the patient’s referring provider, the Comprehensive Memory Center care team will contact the patient to receive a written Authorization to Receive Medical Records from the patient’s other provider(s). The Comprehensive Memory Center generally will not schedule the patient’s initial appointment until all relevant records have been received. Once all records have been received and reviewed, the Comprehensive Memory Center will contact the patient to schedule their initial appointment.

    If assistance is needed with getting a referral, please call the Comprehensive Memory Center at 1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737) and we will be happy to help.

    Most patients will have a minimum of two appointments, a diagnostic evaluation and a feedback session. We strongly encourage the patient’s caregiver to also attend both appointments. We ask that patients and caregivers arrive 30 minutes prior to the scheduled appointment time to complete questionnaires about physical and emotional health.

    The first visit will last at least 2 hours. The patient and their caregiver will meet with members of the Comprehensive Memory Center care team who will listen to the patient’s concerns and ask questions about the patient’s health, medical history, cognitive symptoms, goals, mood, living situation, and social support to get a better understanding of the situation.

    A social worker will meet with the patient’s caregiver and clinicians will conduct a neurologic exam to assess the patient’s strength, coordination, and reflexes as well as administer a memory screening test. Patients may also undergo more in-depth assessments of memory and thinking during this first visit. At this time, it is also common to order diagnostic testing that best fits the patient’s situation, such as brain imaging, blood tests, and/or neuropsychological testing.

    During the patient’s second visit, known as the feedback visit, a physician will meet with the patient and their caregiver to review the patient’s test results and provide a diagnosis and treatment plan. This visit typically lasts an hour, and we encourage both the patients and their caregiver to come prepared with questions and ready to take notes.

    To explore FAQs regarding your upcoming appointment, please click here.

    Yes, our mission is to put patients and their loved ones at the center of the patient’s care to help families live their best lives, have hope, and know that they are not alone. We provide patients and their families with disease education, cognitive-communication therapy, and counseling services as well as assistance with legal documents, navigating long-term care options, and identifying resources in the community.

    Yes, we work with patients and their caregivers to connect them with clinical research or programs within the community.

    Current research study enrollment opportunities include:

    Caregivers

    A caregiver is anyone who provides care and support to a person who may find it difficult to carry out activities of daily living on their own.

    Informal caregivers (unpaid loved ones) make up the majority of caregivers for people with dementia.

    No, while an attorney can be helpful, there are a variety of free tools available online to assist you with healthcare planning.

    Yes, caregivers often experience high rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental and physical strains as a result of their caregiver duties.

    Because they are so dedicated and focused on the care of their loved ones, caregivers often do not notice that their own health is beginning to decline. Caregivers are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as lack of sleep, physical activity, or a nutritious diet, all of which can increase their risk of medical problems, such as heart disease or diabetes.

    Caregiver stress warning signs may include:

    • Abusing alcohol or drugs
    • Becoming easily irritated or angry
    • Experiencing frequent headaches or other physical symptoms
    • Feeling tired often but having trouble sleeping
    • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
    • Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed
    • Unintentionally gaining or losing weight

    Explore these tips for managing caregiver stress.

    We understand that caregiving can have significant impacts on caregivers’ health, which is why we monitor both the patient and their caregiver for anxiety, depression, and other stressors. We offer caregivers counseling services to manage behaviors and emotional support to address concerns of daily living, increasing behaviors, and changes in mood and sleep as well as other challenges. Additionally, the team provides education and assistance with community resources, long-term care planning, and more.

    Yes, our approach to care involves both the patient and their caregiver. We offer caregiver support as an extension of the care, treatment, and support offered to our patients.

    General Dementia

    No, there are different types of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia.

    No, only one-third of people over the age of 85 are diagnosed with dementia.

    No, people under the age of 65 can be diagnosed with young-onset dementia.

    Yes, advanced healthcare planning and the correct medications can help improve long-term, quality of life for people with dementia. Clinical trials and participation in medical programs can also help prevent dementia from worsening and, in some cases, reverse the onset of dementia for some patients.

    There are medications that can slow the progression of dementia. Psychotherapy and cognitive communication therapy can also help manage the symptoms of dementia.

    There is an increased risk of you developing dementia if you have an immediate family member with dementia, but genetics are not deterministic of someone getting dementia later in life.

    You can reduce your risk of developing dementia by managing other chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, smoking, and depression, as well as through good sleep quality and quantity, a well-balance nutritional diet, regular exercise, and socialization.

    Dementia typically does worsen over time, with the exception of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Dementia related to TBI may heal over time, allowing for cognition to return to normal.

    It is very important to determine the cause of symptoms as early as possible to get the maximum benefits from available treatments, which could include identifying reversible causes of dementia. Receiving an early diagnosis provides an opportunity to create legal, medical, and financial plans while the patient is able to voice their values and preferences. Additional opportunities that may otherwise be missed include participating in clinical research or programs within the community that could benefit the patient and/or their caregiver.