The Importance of Diagnostic Centers

Stephanie Aragon
Director of Helpline

The 24-hour Helpline is the heart of CaringKind’s programs and services. It provides trained specialists who offer information, referrals and support to family members, professional caregivers, and people diagnosed with dementia.

The Helpline works closely with CaringKind’s Outreach Program. The Outreach Managers build and maintain relationships with professionals in various social service and healthcare fields. The Outreach Managers educate professionals in various disciplines about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, as well as programs and services offered by CaringKind.

Diagnostic centers make numerous referrals to CaringKind’s 24-hour Helpline in response to relationships with the CaringKind Outreach Program. These relationships are vital to both the person with dementia and his or her care partner as they embark on their caregiving journey.

Located in all five boroughs of New York City, diagnostic centers provide a one-stop shop for a person with memory concerns to undergo a thorough evaluation. The advantage of going to a diagnostic center, instead of just seeing one physician, is that the patient sees a variety of specialists, both medical and non-medical, over two or three days’ time. A neuropsychologist administers tests involving memory for words, stories, shapes and numbers. An internist performs a general physical exam. A neurologist gives a physical exam including checking balance and reflexes, and rules out the possibility of other conditions such as Parkinson’s. A geriatric psychiatrist interviews the client and his or her care partner, usually a family member, to explore the family history and the person’s current functioning. The psychiatrist will ask the client questions to ascertain his or her awareness of vocabulary and general knowledge. The client may also undergo an MRI or PET scan.

After the evaluation, a social worker may meet with the person with memory loss as well as his or her care partner to discuss the diagnosis. Reactions vary from confusion to denial to fear. This is a good time for the social worker to make a Rapid Referral to CaringKind’s supportive services.

Our Healthcare Outreach Manager connects with diagnostic center staff members and educates them about CaringKind’s programs and services, as these healthcare professionals are instrumental in facilitating patient and caregiver connections to CaringKind’s supportive services via the Rapid Referral. The Rapid Referral is a form that healthcare professionals complete and send to CaringKind. The Rapid Referral has information about the person diagnosed with dementia as well as contact information and consent for a call to his or her care partner. Once received, a Helpline Specialist will contact the referred individual to inform him or her about CaringKind’s programs and services. The Helpline Specialist will assist with the non-medical challenges inherent in dementia care. For all medical needs, clients will be referred back to the healthcare provider.

These are the benefits of CaringKind’s HealthCare Outreach and the 24-Hour Helpline working together with diagnostic centers:

  • Patients and caregivers dealing with dementia are connected to resources and support in a timely manner.
  • Education and support helps to create healthy, informed patients and caregivers.
  • Patients and families receive assistance in understanding the impact of dementia.
  • Families have an opportunity to build a support network and plan early in the disease process.
  • Materials are made available for healthcare professionals to keep in office for future referrals.

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