Screening for memory loss

Last month my husband left $100 worth of frozen dog food in his trunk over the weekend. I went to feed the dog on Monday morning and the freezer was bare.

“Hon, did you pick up the dog food on Saturday?” I asked.

“Oh no!” my husband replied.

One memory mishap is not a reason for worry, but when do memory problems become a cause for concern?

Most of us have walked into a room only to forget what we’re there for or have difficulty remembering the name of the person we’re talking to at the grocery store. But what do you do when those instances become more frequent, when your spouse points out you’ve told the same story three times or when you never do remember the name of the person you were talking to?

Spa day

Here’s a snippet from a recent phone conversation I had with my mother, who speaks with a thick New England accent.

Mom: “Yesterday I took Daddy for his checkup with the doctor. The doctor asked Daddy how he was doing. Daddy pointed his finger at me and said, ‘I think she’s had it with me.’”

Me: “Why would Daddy say that?”

Mom: “I told the doctor I was very tired and maybe not as patient as I should be. I said I just needed a good night’s rest and I would be fine. Dr. Nguyen told me I needed to go to a bar (pronounced baah).”

Me: “What?? He told you to go to a bar? Man, I like this doctor.”

Mom: "No, no, not a baah—a spa!"

Waiting for a call back

Bless the Silent Generation. They’re some of the kindest, most patient people. But how is that patience faring in today’s complex healthcare environment?

My father, you may remember, is wheelchair-bound with Parkinson’s. He also has sleep apnea, which can cause interrupted breathing and lack of oxygen. He uses a CPAP machine to increase air pressure so that his airway doesn’t collapse when he sleeps at night.

For someone like my father, a CPAP machine can be the difference between a sound night’s sleep and constantly interrupted sleep resulting in extreme fatigue and mental confusion the next day. It’s a blessing, but not without the occasional hiccup.