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Healthwatch 16: Memory and Cognition Clinic

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Doctors say what's happening with aging has been referred to as the "silver tsunami."

Northeastern and central Pennsylvania, already an older population, is about to have an even bigger percentage of older people as the Baby Boomers age.

Geisinger Health System created a one-stop shop, of sorts, a memory and cognition clinic.

Wassil Draovitch, 83, of Pottsville, gets an A+ on his walking test. This gait analyzer is just one of the features at Geisinger's Memory and Cognition Center near Wilkes-Barre.

Kathleen Modica brings her dad for care.

"We noticed about 2 1/2 years ago some decline in my dad's memory, decided to get tested to see what was really going on," Modica explained.

It was Alzheimer's disease.

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Wassil says he loves basketball and still volunteers making pierogies at his church in St. Clair.

"I keep busy. That's what you have to do. If you don't do anything, you're just going to go down," he said.

Keeping him active and living his best life possible is the goal, according to Dr. Glen Finney, director of memory and cognition for Geisinger Health System.

"We have the oldest population in the state of Pennsylvania right here, and Pennsylvania has the second oldest population in the nation, which means here in northeastern PA, this is one of the oldest populations throughout the country," Dr. Finney said.

Dr. Finney gave us a tour. The rooms are meant to be comfortable, and they're large, to accommodate many family members and/or a multi-disciplinary treatment team that could include speech pathologists, social workers, and psychologists, to name a few, all in one place.

The program also features a driving simulator meant to test a loved one for his or her reaction skills behind the wheel.

Kathleen says she's noticed a difference in her dad since coming here; he likes it and learns a lot. They all have.

"We learned to make the best out of some really not so nice situations. And we learned to appreciate the moments that we have together."

Dr. Finney wants to point out not every memory issue is Alzheimer's or dementia.

He says there are plenty of issues that can be fixed or reversed. Those cases can also be treated at the memory and cognition center.