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Free memory tests in Metro Vancouver are now available to the public

Cost-free and voluntary memory testing provided by the Richmond Memory Clinic (as part of Richmond Clinical Trials) allows participants to assess and monitor their cognitive health
Memory assessment tests give individuals a chance to take an active role in their health.

Taking care of your mind is important for not only healthy living, but for healthy aging.

As part of Richmond Clinical Trials, the Richmond Memory Clinic facilitates free standardized cognitive assessments to help people in the community monitor their brain health. President and neuroscientist Dr. Kim Christie initiated the memory clinic in response to the need in the community for better access to baseline cognitive testing.

“Memory testing offers individuals in the community a chance to take an active role in their health,” says Emily Eisner, BSc, CCRP, clinical operations manager at Richmond Clinical Trials. “It can be beneficial to discuss memory changes with an expert, and to know if what you’re experiencing is “normal aging” or possibly early signs of memory loss.”

The cost-free and voluntary service aims to establish a baseline of one's memory. Early memory testing can support memory loss from the onset, with earlier detection of possible memory impairment and assistance with prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Additionally, Richmond Clinical Trials conducts clinical trials that test new treatment options for memory loss conditions. 

Participants in the Richmond Memory Clinic include community members from across the Lower Mainland, Victoria, and the surrounding areas who either want to establish a baseline of their memory, have a family history of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or have noticed memory changes and want more information. While referrals are not required to participate, some participants are referred by their health care professional, pharmacist, or a concerned loved one.

Monitoring your cognitive abilities is important for healthy aging and healthy living. Photo: fizkes/iStock

At 76 years old, Dr. David McKenzie, a participant of the memory assessment tests at Richmond Memory Clinic in spring 2023, began to address his concerns over his declining cognitive memory. “I sometimes feel unable to navigate my car to places where, just ten years ago, I easily knew the route to. For several years I have had difficulty expressing myself in words, which is an occupational hazard for a doctor in psychotherapy.”

Upon hearing about the memory tests offered through the Richmond Memory Clinic, Dr. McKenzie signed himself up. “My family physician said memory issues are a part of normal aging, but I had to be sure.”

Besides Dr. McKenzie’s late sister, who had died from advanced dementia, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease had never been diagnosed in his near or distant family members. “I have struggled with major depression for many decades and since depression is a strong indicator of later dementia, I wanted to double check.”

The memory assessment sessions take up to an hour and include an interview with patients to understand how they feel their memory has changed. During the appointment, participants will be asked a series of questions to help determine their cognitive baseline. The clinical tester will then conduct standardized cognitive tests to analyze different aspects of cognitive functioning and measure the participant’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Upon the completion of the testing, participants will get their results during the same session. 

Of the three memory assessment tests given to and taken by Dr. McKenzie, he passed two of the tests with excellent scores. “For the third test, I scored poorly on one question because it was worded awkwardly, and I answered according to my understanding of the question,” says Dr. McKenzie. “When the clinician re-worded it for me, I understood it completely.”

If the tester believes the participant may be suitable for the clinical trial, they will be asked if they want to participate.

“The clinician told me that my condition was not such that I could be used for their study. I came away feeling good and reassured that at this point I do not have dementia.”

“Each clinical trial has a unique consent form and screening procedures in order to qualify,” explains Eisner. “Whether or not someone qualifies, participating in a clinical trial is the best way to help advance medicine and bring better treatments to the public.”

With the final report that is delivered, participants can track their progress. “The experts at Richmond Clinical Trials will track participants’ memory progression over time and compare their cognitive scores after each appointment. Repeat testing is the best way to find patterns and can help lead to earlier detection of memory loss.”

By taking an active role in managing your mental wellbeing by having your memory assessed on a regular basis, you can gain a sense of control in your health. 

“I was so impressed with the thoroughness of the clinician and the tests that I recommended Richmond Clinical Trials to an acquaintance who had wanted to begin testing for dementia,” says Dr. McKenzie.

Book a free memory assessment with Richmond Memory Clinic today