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A Conversation With … Dr. Curtis Schreiber

Medical Director, Missouri Memory Center at Citizens Memorial Hospital

Posted online

What is Missouri Memory Center, and what’s the mission?
It was started because of interest in helping patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In 1999, I had the great opportunity to start the memory center in what was then St. John’s and later became Mercy. Due to my interest in helping people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and due to the great support offered by CMH for this project, Missouri Memory Center was started in 2015.

How many patients do you see annually?
We see 1,000 or more. Dementia, unfortunately, is more common than people know. Statistically, if you look at how many people over age 65 have Alzheimer’s disease, it’s 12.5 percent across the country. That’s one in eight.

How is dementia and Alzheimer’s diagnosed and treated?
The opportunities that we have with patients are, No. 1, to investigate the cause of memory concerns. Is this early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or is this related to medication or other issues or depression? There are a number of different causes that can affect cognition. The real treatments aren’t really treatments. It’s care. Care involves establishing a diagnosis, providing education to family and caregivers and providing instruction on how to change their current lifestyle, how to review their medications, how to prepare for the future. We wish we had curative treatments, … but we do have things that can help. There are currently (Food and Drug Administration)-approved treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia that do help with the symptoms. Part of our program … is being involved in research on treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. We were involved in research studies that are not just done here in Bolivar, but these are studies that are also around the world. When we were able to participate in the (Imaging Dementia Evidence for Amyloid Scanning) Study, which was looking not at treatment, but at diagnostic approaches to Alzheimer’s disease, part of our funding was through the Alzheimer’s Association, through Medicare and from other groups that were participating in that particular study.

What about the rippling effects of the disease?
The concern with cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia, is that it does affect the whole family and the community of people who help that person. In the United States, caregivers provide over 18 billion hours of care, most of it uncompensated. If you put a reasonable dollar value for the effort put into that, the total care value is $234 billion. That’s only going to get worse with our aging population.

How does that affect the way you provide treatment?
The goal of Missouri Memory Center is to provide comprehensive care. Back in the day, the role of a neurologist was typically joked about in the sense of diagnose and “adios.” Having a diagnosis is one thing, but having a plan of care is another. Currently, there are other providers that diagnose and treat dementia. As far as we know, there is no other organized memory center program in the region.

Dr. Curtis Schreiber can be reached at mmc@citizensmemorial.com.

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