How to take a history of memory problems

A good collateral history of cognitive decline is a crucial part of assessing cognition and you may even be able to make a diagnosis with this information. Here’s what to cover…

Remember to think about previous level of executive function so ask about occupation and educational attainment. Remember also that some people may never have paid the bills, or done the grocery shop so a change in function is important.

What is the duration of memory problems. How has it progressed? Gradually/suddenly/fluctuating

Any difficulty remembering appointments, family occasions?

Any difficulty writing cheques, paying bills, balancing the chequebook?

Any difficulty planning and buying items for a weekly shop?

Any difficulty taking medications according to instructions?

Could they plan a simple journey to a new or unfamiliar location? Do they get lost while walking or driving in familiar places?

Any difficulty recognising family members? Friends? Neighbours?

Any difficulties in speech/language? Repetitive questions? Forgetting words? Jumbling speech?

Have they become more socially withdrawn? How is their mood?

Could they manage to cook a meal? Any accidents in the kitchen?

Any other safety issues at home?

Any safety issues driving?

What ADLs can they no longer perform as a result of cognitive decline?

Alternatively, questionnaires such as the functional activities questionnaire or IQCODE may be printed out and given to patients and caregivers.

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Published by sean9n

Geriatric Medicine Consultant Leeds Likes football, disco and onitsuka tigers. Talks about old people on here

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