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Alzheimer's institute to open Memory CARE Center | News

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Alzheimer's institute to open Memory CARE Center
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Tampa, Florida - Is your spouse or parent forgetting things lately?  You may be asking if that forgetfulness is the beginning of Dementia or Alzheimer's.

USF is opening a one stop diagnostic center to help answer those questions.  The Memory CARE (Clinical, Assessment, Research and Education) Center offers families a first time diagnoses of Alzheimer or Dementia all in one day and from one place. Patients are made to feel at home.

"This great room is designed with small, intimate seating areas. For example, in these video viewing rooms, some older dementia patients are comforted by watching old, familiar musicals," explains Jessica Banko, PhD and Associate Director of the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute.

The center offers the latest in diagnostic technology.

"PET scanner is the latest and greatest for Alzheimer disease. PET Scans help us positively diagnose dementia also support drug discovery too. This technology allows patients to be diagnosed earlier and seek treatment sooner," says Banko.

The Alzheimer Institute is reportedly the largest free standing institute dedicated to Alzheimer's disease in the world.  

Banko says, "We've heard it described as an epidemic the hurricane hitting Florida. Our demographics put us as a leader in this country for Alzheimer's incidents."

Records shows one in 40 Floridians has a form of dementia -- that's nearly 500,000 cases and experts say that number is expected to double by 2020.

Experts say one of the earlier symptoms for a memory disorder is a person's risk of for falls. "Research tells us increased fall risk is an earlier sign of later on dementia," says Banko.

Patients can have their balance and walking ability evaluated using technology equipped with sensors to measure their balance and gait. The institute also teaches patients ways to help prevent falls.

Soon the center will receive a driving simulator to help families decide when their loved one should switch from being a driver to a rider.

A mini-model apartment at the Memory Care Center helps evaluate a person's ability to live alone. Patients run through a series of skills tests from boiling water, selecting weather-appropriate clothing and doing laundry. The model apartment also shows families what not to do in a home.

"We've designed it with lots of do's and don'ts. For example, trip hazards. We don't want a lot of clutter or throw rugs on the floor, they present risk for tripping."

If bathtubs can't be retrofitted to walk in showers, add a handheld shower head. Experts say avoid using monochromatic colors for linens and bed. Dementia patients sometimes have depth perception issues.

Banko says the center hopes to offer families an easy one-stop shop center for early diagnoses.

"If we diagnose it early, we can treat it help stop further memory loss and restore independence."

The center opens later this month and organizers say many services are covered under Medicare. Once a diagnosis is made a licensed social worker will help families find services and support groups close to home.

Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.

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