Allenmore Psychological Associates remains OPEN. During this period of concern and anxiety having access to quality behavioral health care is important and our staff is dedicated to ensuring your behavioral health care needs are met. In the unlikely event that the WA Department of Health directs us to close we will notify patients via telephone on the day of their appointment (similar to our Snow Day policy). If you are an existing patient who is demonstrating symptoms associated with the coronavirus or impacted by related closures (e.g. cannot find day care due to a school closure) and need to cancel we ask that you inform our staff as soon as possible, APA will not charge you for a late cancellation.


Dementia is an umbrella term describing a syndrome or constellation of symptoms, which are caused by various disease processes. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the diagnostic criteria for dementia include a Memory Impairment (i.e., problems in consistently recalling various types of information); plus any of the following related concerns:

  • Aphasia: Disruptions in the person’s ability to produce speech, or to understand written or spoken language.
  • Apraxia: The inability to perform routine activities that the person is capable of and willing to perform.
  • Agnosia: Impairment in the person’s ability to recognize familiar objects, faces or locations),
  • Disturbance in Executive Functioning: The inability to organize, plan, sustain attention, multitask, problem-solve, or manage time and tasks.

These memory and cognitive symptoms result in impairments in social or occupational functioning. (Cognition refers to the processes of thinking, reasoning and learning.) This means that patients typically have a memory impairment combined with language and executive functioning impairments. Visuospatial abilities refer to the awareness of visual and spatial relationships, and the use of these abilities in learning and performing tasks. Visuospatial abilities are often significantly impaired in individuals suffering from dementia. This combination of symptoms and impairments results in significant difficulties in occupational and social functioning. As dementia worsens, individuals can no longer work and become permanently disabled. Dementia is progressive and it presents with a gradual onset and involves a continual decline until death.The most common disease process that results in dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease. There are other forms of dementia including Vascular Dementia, which is typically caused by a cerebrovascular accident (stroke), and Frontotemporal Dementia, which is often caused by Pick’s Disease. Dementia usually affects older adults, age 55 and older, but can affect younger adults who carry the gene for early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. These individuals typically have a strong family history of dementia.The counselors at Allenmore Psychological Associates (APA) are available to provide assessment, counseling and support for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s in Tacoma and the surrounding areas. They know how difficult a Dementia or Alzhiemer’s diagnosis can be for individuals and their family support system. APA’s counselors are here to provide information, help, support and resources for families affected by dementia.

What are the Symptoms of Dementia?

While dementia usually begins with impairments in short term memory, it is important to note that some mild memory impairments are normal as we age. Forgetting where you put your keys, or why you walked into a room would be examples of normal lapses in memory. If you or a loved one begin to notice impairments in memory, concentration, visuo-spatial skills or executive functioning skills, it may be helpful to have an evaluation done. For example, you might notice that you are forgetting that you had entire conversations or find that you cannot remember names or information the way you did in the past. It is also important to note that cognitive impairments, especially in short term memory, can also be affected by other, more treatable issues, including depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions. Completing a neuropsychological evaluation can help tease apart the underlying issues contributing to the cognitive impairment and memory problem. In its later stages, dementia often involves behavioral disturbances, such as aggression, agitation, wandering, and symptoms of psychosis (such as suspiciousness and paranoid beliefs). Dementia can also involve sleep disruptions, such as hypersomnia and insomnia.

What Can Be Done to Help People with Dementia?

Dementia can be diagnosed with a combination of clinical and family history, imaging (i.e. MRI, PET scans) and neuropsychological evaluation. Neuropsychological evaluation utilizes standardized psychological testing instruments and is performed by a trained psychologist or neuropsychologist to assess an individual’s cognitive and memory functions. It is useful for determining cognitive impairment, aiding in differential diagnosis, rating the severity of the disorder and monitoring disease progression. The patient is administered various tests, which are designed to measure psychological and neurocognitive domains, including memory, language processing, visuospatial abilities, emotional stability and executive functioning. This testing can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day.

There are currently no treatments to cure or prevent dementia. There are some medications, including cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine, which are indicated for Alzheimer’s Disease. These medications have been shown in clinical trials to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s but do not cure it. Typically, the earlier that Alzheimer’s is diagnosed and medication therapy is started, the greater benefits patients experience in terms of delayed of memory deficits associated with Alzheimer’s. There are also medications that can treat the secondary behavioral disturbances and sleep disruptions that often accompany dementia. More recent research suggests that there is a link between dementia and vascular health, so it is always recommended that patients exercise, eat a healthy diet, manage stress and treat their diabetes or high blood pressure if indicated. While there are no current treatments to cure dementia, it is very important to identify the disease as early as possible, so that patients and their families can begin to prepare for the patient’s care in the future.

This care may involve having a full time caregiver, living in an assisted living facility or receiving some assistance with daily functioning tasks. It may be necessary for the patient to obtain a driving evaluation to determine if it is safe for them to continue driving. Family members often benefit from attending dementia or Alzheimer’s family support groups to learn about the disease and to get support for the emotional impact that their loved one’s disease is having on them. Counseling can also provide invaluable support to family members of the dementia patient and helps them cope with the unique type of grief that comes from losing a loved one “a little bit at a time.”

Contact APA for Help with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

At Allenmore Psychological Associates, we have over three decades of experience assessing and treating a wide range of cognitive issues, including dementia. We are ideally positioned in the Tacoma community to provide cognitive and memory assessments for individuals diagnosed with or suspected of suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as to provide counseling services to the patient and their family. The psychologists and counselors at APA also have extensive experience counseling family members and providing support as they navigate through the difficult process of caring for a family member with dementia. For more information about the services we offer or to schedule an initial appointment, please contact us at (253) 752-7320.

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