Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem’s first hospital to have opened a dedicated Geriatrics Department in the early 1980’s, has announced the hire of Dr. Shelly Sternberg to direct the Memory Clinic. Dr. Sternberg, a native of Canada who has been living in Israel for the past 11 years, will champion the multi-disciplinary approach to aiding the elderly, which has served as the hallmark of the Clinic since its opening nearly fifteen years ago.
Dr. Sternberg describes the approach as “holistic,” saying, “the goal is to ensure that our patients have all the necessary tools and professional advice to deal with the challenges that comes with memory loss.”
The Clinic is staffed by specialists from several different areas of the hospital. Dr. Sternberg, herself a Gerontologist, works alongside a Neurologist who specializes in memory loss, a nurse, occupational therapists, a social worker and a psychiatrist, as well as the Clinic’s secretary.
“The concept behind this service involves the inclusion of both patients and their families, as we address psychosocial challenges alongside the medical ones,” Dr. Sternberg says. “Our goal therefore is not simply to provide a diagnosis but also to look at the bigger picture and determine which support elements or daycare facilities can be most effective for each particular case.”
While Dr. Sternberg says that the vast majority of patients are over the age of 65, there are occasions when younger patients can experience serious memory loss. While dementia is known as a broad school of conditions,
about 50 to 75 percent of the cases treated in the Clinic are suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.
“There is no one-shot solution for the problem of memory loss that comes with age. Caregivers, therefore, need to make a long-term investment in the patient’s wellbeing, which is precisely the philosophy behind Shaare Zedek’s approach,” Dr. Sternberg says. The Clinic’s team meets to review every case and often confers with other experts to design the best course of treatment and therapy for the patient. Leading consultants working alongside the Clinic include Professor Arnold Rosin, who founded the original Memory Clinic at Shaare Zedek as well as Dr. Yehuda Van Dyke, a senior geriatric expert at the hospital and Leah Abramovich who founded the Melabev organization for dementia sufferers.
The medical approach to patients often includes a specific course of drug-based treatment both to stabilize the condition and to address specific behavioral problems. Dr. Sternberg says that depression is a common effect of dementia and careful attention is paid to depressed patients both through pharmaceutical and other therapies.
“Like in many other fields of modern medicine, we know that patients with dementia can be helped through pro-active care and innovative treatments,” Dr. Sternberg says. “With the constant increase in patients experiencing serious and debilitating memory loss, we see this Clinic as offering an invaluable service for those in need and for the community at large.”