Memory Assessment Service – Information leaflet

Information about having a Memory Assessment. What it involves, how long it takes, who will carry it out and the advantages and disadvantages of an assessment.

Quality Approved Resource logo

This leaflet may not be reproduced in whole or in part, without the permission of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

  • Why have I been referred for a memory assessment?

    You, or someone close to you, have noticed that you have been having some difficulties with your memory, concentration or another aspect of your thinking. Your doctor (who may be your Family Doctor or a Specialist Doctor) has suggested that you have this assessment to try and find out why this is.

    It is important to mention at this stage that a diagnosis of dementia is only one of the possibilities.

  • What does the assessment involve?

    The assessment requires you to answer a number of different questions. Each of these is designed to look at different parts of your brain’s abilities. Some of the questions you may find easy, some of them may be difficult. Very few people can complete all the tasks perfectly.

  • Who will carry out the assessment?

    A health professional from the Memory Assessment Service will arrange an appointment with you to carry out the assessment. Nurses, doctors and psychologists have been trained to do these assessments with patients, and to make sense of the results.

  • Where will the assessment take place?

    We will arrange an appointment with you to carry out the assessment. This may either be in your home or at a local clinic. If the assessment is taking place in your home, you will need to find somewhere quiet, where you will not be disturbed. It is also helpful to if you have a table or desk to work on.

  • How long will the assessment take?

    The clinical assessment usually takes up to two hours. During the first appointment we will usually meet and answer your questions about the assessment. You will also be asked about the problems you are having and about your life in general.

  • Will I be able to have a friend or family member with me during the assessment?

    We would like you to attend with a family member or friend if possible.

  • Is there anything I need to bring to the assessment?

    If you wear glasses, or use a hearing aid, you will need to bring these to be able to do the assessment. It would also be helpful if you could provide a list of your medication as it helps to know if any of these might impact on how you do on the tests.

  • Will I find out the results of the assessment?

    Another appointment will be arranged to meet with you after the assessment has finished to talk through the results. Some people prefer not to know the results of the assessment. This is your choice, and you can talk it over with the health professional who undertakes your assessment.

  • Who will be told the results of the assessment?

    We will write to your GP and the person who referred you to let them know the results of the assessment. The information may help your GP to find out why you are having these difficulties. You will also be given a copy of this assessment unless you say otherwise.

  • Will I have to do the assessment again in the future?

    Sometimes it is helpful to have the assessment repeated a few months later. This helps to see if there has been any change in your skills and abilities in that time. This will be discussed with you if appropriate.

  • What are the advantages of having my memory assessed?

    Finding the cause
    The testing may result in a possible explanation for your cognitive difficulties. Often people find it a relief to know what is happening to them, and this can reduce anxiety. This can also help people and their families plan for the future and make adaptations in their lives to make things easier.

    Offering intervention
    There may be an intervention that could help. For example:

    • Access to specialist services, support, and possibly extra benefits.
    • Access to psycho-social interventions i.e., individual or group support/cognitive remediation.
    • Medication for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease
  • What are the disadvantages of knowing what is causing my memory problem?

    Some people are very concerned by the thought of being told they have cognitive problems. This is a normal reaction. We will give you time to talk over your worries and concerns.

  • Who do I contact if I have any questions or concerns just now?

    If you have any immediate questions or concerns about your assessment, you can contact the department who has sent you the appointment.

  • What if I have a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint about the service?

    If you want to make a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint you can:

    We are always looking at ways to improve services. Your feedback allows us to monitor the quality of our services and act upon issues that you bring to our attention. You can provide feedback in the following ways:

    • the quickest way for you to do this is to complete our short online survey at
    • complete a Your Voice survey, available on wards, reception areas or from staff
    • other options for sharing your feedback and experience

    Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
    PALS provide confidential advice and support, helping you to sort out any concerns that you may have about any aspect of your or your loved ones care.

    We act independently when handling patient and family concerns, liaising with staff, managers and, where appropriate, relevant organisations, to negotiate prompt solutions. If necessary, we can also refer patients and families to specific local or national-based support agencies.

    North of Tyne
    Tel: 0800 032 0202
    Email: [email protected]

    South of Tyne
    Tel: 0800 328 4397
    Text: 07825 061 035
    Email: [email protected]
    Post: Patient Advice and Liaison Service, Garden Lodge, Hopewood Park, Ryhope, Sunderland, SR2 0NB

    9am – 4.30 pm, Monday to Friday
    An answerphone is available at all times for you to leave a message. A member of the PALS team will aim to return your call as soon as possible.

  • Other formats, references and review

    Further information about the content, reference sources or production of this leaflet can be obtained from the Patient Information Centre. If you would like to tell us what you think about this leaflet please get in touch.

    This information can be made available in a range of formats on request (eg Braille, audio, larger print, easy read, BSL or other languages). Please contact the Patient Information Centre Tel: 0191 246 7288

    Published by the Patient Information Centre
    2024 Copyright, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
    Ref, PIC/399/0624 June 2024 V6 Tel: 0191 246 7288
    Review date 2027