Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dementia, the bigger picture

My experience in geriatrics has enlightened me on multiple levels. I came to realize the importance of looking at the bigger picture with older patients. It’s not just about focusing on medical problems but also aspects of daily living that may impact overall health. I discovered I can get to know someone very quickly simply by asking questions pertaining to ADLs and IADLs. These are items we as residents often overlook while training in the inpatient setting as we focus quite a bit on the acute problem. I also came to recognize the huge impact dementia has on a patient and their family. In my eye, it is a medical condition that doesn't get enough credit as it truly should. From a physician’s perspective, I realized I should pay more attention to this disease process as it has a multifaceted impact on a patient. In my opinion, unless a person has a family member or friend with dementia, the general public otherwise views this condition as ‘something old people get.’ I hope to educate people that it is much more than that. To look at this from a broader perspective, actor Seth Rogen recently presented a statement to members of congress to encourage funding for research into Alzheimer’s dementia. Despite his witty yet moving speech about his personal experience with a family member suffering from the disease, his presentation was made to a poor showing of congressmen. I have had the opportunity to see various types of dementia in person. I would hope that as time goes on that this condition receives more recognition to the general public's eye about its impact on overall health and ultimately lead to early recognition and appropriate management. Looking back now that I have come to the end of my experience with geriatrics, I do wish I could have had this experience during my intern year. I feel like it would have changed my practice with older patients. Nevertheless, I will definitely carry over what I have learned to the rest of my residency and into my career.

- Arvind Satyanarayan

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