With Arizona projected to have the highest growth rate of Alzheimer’s disease in the nation, Banner Sun Health Research Institute is expanding its services to help patients with memory and thinking problems.

The institute, also known as BSHRI, recently added neuropsychologist Briana Auman, PsyD, to its team helping Valley residents receive accurate and early diagnosis of memory conditions. Previously, only BSHRI neurology patients were seen by its neuropsychologists. Now, patients throughout the Valley can be evaluated through BSHRI, following appropriate insurance referral requirements. Neuropsychology services are best suited for those aged 55 and older who are experiencing memory and thinking challenges, and who would benefit from a detailed assessment of their cognitive abilities.

“Two brains may look exactly the same yet function very differently,” Auman explains. “Neuropsych testing helps us understand which areas of the brain are contributing to the memory issues. It could be related to a person’s ability to problem solve, their attention span, or short- or even long-term memory.”

Neuropsychology is a clinical specialty focused on understanding and evaluating cognitive function. While there are a variety of advancements in imaging techniques or ways to visualize the brain, the testing conducted by neuropsychologists is considered the gold standard to diagnose cognitive disorders. This evaluation can determine if memory changes are a normal part of getting older, or a sign of a neurological condition such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

The evaluation process often takes a few hours and includes a comprehensive interview with the neuropsychologist followed by various one-on-one assessments of memory and thinking abilities. A follow-up appointment is available to discuss results and recommendations for resources and strategies to compensate for weaknesses.  

“Memory complaints can be challenging to diagnose,” Dr. Auman said. “There are a variety of causes that could be contributing to forgetfulness outside of Alzheimer’s disease. I am here to help figure out what is going on with each person and provide an individualized care plan that will help maximize their quality of life.”

Dr. Auman is fellowship trained in clinical neuropsychology and comes to Sun City to support families facing neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. She joins two other neuropsychologists on staff, Christine Belden, PsyD, and Jessica Powell, PsyD.

To learn more, call 623-832-6530.

Since 1986, Banner Sun Health Research Institute, part of nonprofit Banner Health, has been a leader nationally and internationally in the effort to find answers to disorders of aging including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The institute, together with its Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium partners, has been designated by the National Institutes of Health as one of just 29 Alzheimer’s Disease Centers in the nation. The institute’s Cleo Roberts Center for Clinical Research takes laboratory discoveries to clinical trials that foster hope for new treatments. Banner Health is Arizona’s leading health care provider and largest private employer. For more information, visit www.bannershri.com or visit us on Facebook.