A thought struck me this afternoon in the middle of a consultation. Jack is comfortably "over the hill" and in recent years has taking to rambling the byways metaphorically speaking. In short his memory is not what it was. Or so he imagines,though he finds it hard now to remember what it was when it was....
Certainly he has progressed along the continuum from Mildly Eccentric in the direction of Dotty, though he remains a long way from Terminally Bemused. So far his personality, and especially his lively sense of humour are reasonably preserved, but the fine details of daily life increasingly evade him. And now he has reached the point where he, and those around him, have decided it's time for something to be done. So I will be referring him to our very nice and very capable psychogeriatrician-- yes that is a job title and not a pejorative-- for an assessment of his memory. There they will ask him a set of stock questions designed to assess his cognitive abilities and recall.
And this is what has got me thinking. There are days when I am sure my nearest and dearest, and maybe even you gentle readers, having heard me rant on at length about the same old stuff for the nth time since breakfast, begin to wonder if I am starting to meander those same byways. The trouble is, I know all those stock questions almost as well as the clinic chaps do. The answers are now essentaially hardwired so I don't need to "take seven off of a hundred and keep going" to know the right number sequence, and I know perfectly bloody well where John Brown* lives thank you very much! So all I've got to do is memorize the name of the new Prime Minister whenever we get one and maybe those of a few footballers, and I'll be safe if the men-in-white-coats chose to pay a call.
So in years to come just how will we assess the failing cognition of GPs, Psychiatrists and others involved in this field of endeavour?
Do tell. I want a head start swotting for the tests.
* The memory assessment includes the giving of an address to be memorized early in the interview with points scored for recalling the name, house number, street and town concerned at the end. A little psychogeriatric in joke for you there. And at no extra cost.