FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN /
Lucy in The Sky
last night, as I was returning from a whirlwind two
days at the annual N4A conference in Nashville, I
found myself sitting next to a retired pharmacist
who was returning from his niece’s funeral.
After some brief pleasantries, such as
marveling at the lung capacity of the children
traveling with us, I slipped on my headset and
replaced the rest of the airplane noise with music.
after the flight attendant called for all seats to
be raised to their upright positions, I resumed my
conversation with my row mate. He related that he had been worried about his
sister Lucy’s mental acuity even before her daughter
had taken ill. Lucy had always picked him up at the local
airport when he would visit her; but in recent
years, she had stopped because now she frequently
lost her way in the city where she had lived for
more than thirty years and would have to call for
someone to pick her up. Her family (another daughter is a clinical
psychologist) was concerned, but no one knew what
steps to take.
had just spent time with the Area Agency on Aging
director for his sister’s city at the conference,
and told him that his first step was to call the
organization, as well as the local Alzheimer’s
Association, to see what services are available for
his sister and her family. Luckily, Lucy’s city is also home to a
leading Alzheimer’s diagnostics center, and I told
him to make sure she went for an appropriate
neurological evaluation as soon as possible.
This family was aware, able and interested in
taking the steps to help Lucy; but even with all of
the healthcare professionals in the family, they
were still paralyzed about what steps to take and in
what order to take them.
occurred to me that taking these first tentative
steps to determining if a loved one has a cognitive
disorder is very much like creating a medical plan
of action. Diagnose, assess and prescribe. First, the diagnosis was made (there was
something amiss with mom); then the assessment of
what steps to take (what are the available
diagnostic options and community resources?); and,
finally, the prescription (how do you help your
loved one realize that an assessment is made not to
create a loss of independence, but to be able to
retain as much independence as possible? who will go
with mom for the testing? and what are the family
plans if the test results shows signs of a cognitive
important of all is to put a timeline to these
steps. This family (including Lucy) has been
discussing the signs of her possible memory
challenges for at least four years. Our conversation must have crystallized
things for him as he said that he was going to spend
next week putting a plan in place.
that’s music to my ears.