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Early diagnosis for memory loss

Tasmania has opened its first nurse-led "memory clinic".

Addressing the rapidly rising demand for dementia specialist services and increase the early dementia diagnosis rate within the community, Tasmania has opened its first nurse-led "memory clinic".

Launched by Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, the clinic will provide comprehensive assessments and therapeutic interventions for people with memory loss and dementia.

Dr Christine Stirling, research associate for Menzies' Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, said the project would help identify people who were suffering from cognitive problems such as memory loss and dementia, and to develop a personalised intervention plan.

The clinic will be managed by nurse practitioner Hazel Ryan, who will also complete the assessments. She said the clinic would provide an alternative avenue for individuals to access initial assessment, while also supporting GPs and specialists with the time consuming aspects of assessment and referral.

The benefits of an earlier diagnosis for people with memory loss and cognitive impairment include earlier linking to care and services with improved capacity to plan for the future, Ryan said.

The evidence gathered in this project will help the development of nurse practitioner roles in dementia diagnosis, while highlighting future areas needing research in this model of diagnosis."

Following an initial assessment visit, a second visit will be offered for anyone with identified cognitive deficits so that Ryan can develop a personalised plan for them.

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