Written by  Katherine Ottaway MD

 

Dementia is terrible
for the family.

For the patient
the minding goes first.

A woman comes to me
in her eighties, asking for testing
years ago. I have the MMSE
Mini Mental Status Exam
memorized. This is long
before better tests.
I warn her: it doesn’t pick up
the early loss well at all.
It can be a baseline. She nods.
Test, she says. I test. Normal range.
I trust her more than the test.
I offer neuropsych testing, more in depth.
No, she says, she’ll wait.

Six months later, her son brings her in.
The score has dropped, abnormal now.
She was correct. Her memory is going.
But the minding has gone first.
She seems happy, though we are interfering
to keep her safe. Her son seems kind
and that’s the best I can hope for.

The minding goes first
which may be a blessing
wandering into the mists in the mind.

But not for the family.
The minding stays.
Dementia is terrible
for the family.

 

Text ©  Katherine Ottaway MD

 

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