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Tom Petty Was Right

I was reading a piece in The New York Times about the complexities of diagnosing dementia, and it had me reflecting back. Prior to my Mom’s official Alzheimer’s diagnosis, my Dad assumed that she simply had an irreversible case of C.R.S. – that is, “Can’t Remember _____” (I’ll let y’all figure out what that stands for on your own!). It was only after years of increased signs and signals that we realized a professional assessment was necessary – leading us to the real truth, as well as real strategies for her treatment and care.

These days, when a family brings a loved one to their primary care physician with memory loss concerns, they rarely get the instant answers that they crave. That’s not because the doctor wants to – trust me, there’s nothing a good doctor wants more than to give a patient or family the answers and options they need. But because it requires a series of thorough screenings to accurately diagnosis a dementia, physicians are often left in the less-than-enjoyable position of offering a “walks like a duck, talks like a duck” conclusion. The family has definitely taken the right first step by going to the doctor and discussing what they are noticing. And yet, they’ll likely leave with a neurologist appointment scheduled for a couple months later. As Tom Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part.

I have some good news, though. More and more senior care physicians are partnering with The Ivey as a perfect resource for families in the interim. Because we offer a battery of dementia-specific screenings and assessments, families can turn to us for answers, guidance and support even as they await their neurology appointment. They can delve into our library to begin their own research, speak with our staff of caring experts, and begin to explore a community of families who have been through similar journeys and love to help others facing down similar questions and challenges.

I have always felt that “staying in action” is a helpful tactic when unknowns abound. Screenings and assessments, seeking insight from a community that can relate, and taking advantage of a multitude of community resources can do a world of good while awaiting the next step in the diagnosis process.

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