Memory clinic to open in Windsor will help dementia diagnosis and provide treatment

Windsor will be home to one of 17 new memory clinics across Ontario.There are already 75 clinics throughout the province.

17 new memory clinics are opening up across Ontario

It took about nine months, plenty of tests and a Toronto doctor before Susan Hildebrandt's dementia was diagnosed. (provided by Kai Hildebrandt)

Families with loved ones battling Alzheimer's are calling a new memory clinic set to open in Windsor in June "a big help" that will speed up diagnoses and provide care closer to home.

For Kai Hildebrandt and his wife Susan,  Alzheimer's started showing when Susan began losing her vision 11 years ago while working as a professor at the University of Windsor.

Despite the early signs it took about nine months, plenty of tests and visiting a doctor in Toronto before Susan's dementia was diagnosed. Hildebrandt said these clinics will be helpful for families to get support in one place and help cut down on wait times.

"Our neurologist deals with Parkinson's and all kinds of things in addition to Alzheimer's," he said. "There are very few neurologists in Windsor unfortunately."

(Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Hildebrandt said his wife was still lucid when she learned she had dementia, but four years after her diagnosis it took over.

"It'll be useful to have some place where there is a doctor to diagnose, but there is also support staff that can assess what a person needs at home," he said.

According to Adopting Research to Improve Care, clinics such as the one set to open in Windsor "reduced the need for specialists referrals from up to 80 per cent of patients with memory issues to fewer than 10 per cent who require specialist level care."

The new clinic will provide extra resources, training and knowledge, said Rosemary Fiss, the manager of education and support programs with the Alzheimer Society of Windsor-Essex County.

Team to work with patients

A social worker and a nurse will be on hand to provide input for a cognitive assessment before the entire team meets with the physician to determine if there is a diagnosis.

That team will then follow each patient throughout  their journey.

(Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"That really does open up and provide a huge support in the community in terms of being able to get those diagnosis early and in a timely fashion," Fiss said.

She said not all primary care physicians feel comfortable to make the diagnosis and often send out referrals, but patients are often better served by primary care close to home.

"Not everybody needs to go to a specialist and actually the best place for diagnosis is with primary care. So these clinics are actually creating that support," she added.