Friday, October 1, 2010

Dementia- Remember THIS!

Today I am speaking at the AAFP Scientific Assembly about DEMENTIA. Why? Because I know first hand what it is like to CARE for someone with dementia, and have experienced frustrations from the family member/care giver standpoint, and I want to help other family physicians gain some insight from our family's experience. Our mother faded for twelve years from Alzheimer's, and now our father is battling Parkinson's dementia. We have the unique view from both the provider and patient aspects, and I hope my talk can make a difference.

What are a few things I want to share?
1. How to recognize what is "normal" age-related memory change versus true dementia (see Do I Have Alzheimer's?)
2. Docs need to be the "bad guy" and say it's time to stop driving. (See Driving Safely while Aging)
3. Subtraction skills are used every day- figuring out change, recipes, and even counting backwards to see what time you need to leave the house to arrive on time for an appointment. When this SKILL goes, what you SEE is trouble with those activities.
4. Pills-especially with generics, pills can LOOK ALIKE and add to confusion of poly-pharmacy. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
5. Pill delivery- all pill boxes are not created equally. Finding one that works can make a beautiful difference.
6. Stopping medications- there comes a point when it is time to stop pills aimed to prolong life (statins, aspirin, etc.) If there are no side effects to the patient quality of life to STOP them, I do.

That tops the list, and we'll see what input others have today!

BOTTOM LINE: Primary care physicians can do more to help their patients facing dementia, and I hope to help them see how!

PS It's OCTOBER FIRST- Time to change those AIR FILTERS!

No comments: