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Ask Dr. Gott 2/13

Bedside manner makes dementia diagnasis more painful

DEAR DR. GOTT: My husband is in an early stage of dementia. You hear people say he or she died of dementia. That is not true, is it? And you hear doctors on television say, "As soon as you notice dementia, tell your doctor. The sooner the better."
    Well, I did. I told of my husband's early stages that I mentioned. My husband's doctor said there is nothing one can do. He prescribed Aricept and said this might help delay the disease, but there was no guarantee. That I know.
    I took my husband to see a Veteran's Administration physician. I was shocked. She told him, "You seem OK now, but maybe in six months from now when I see you again, you probably won't know who I am. And you won't recognize your wife at all." I think that was very rude and very unprofessional.
    My husband is a strong man, but he sat back in the chair and said, "Oh, my God. Is it that bad?" She just looked at him.
    We came home and he sat down and cried. He wishes he could have died. He had no idea dementia worked that fast.
    That was nine months ago. He has since painted the house, taken a motor trip and spoken at a convention. I notice little odd things, but six months? I think the VA doctor needs some therapy of her own mind if she doesn't know how to talk to patients.
    DEAR READER: I agree. Such a response is totally inappropriate, as your husband's recent history has proven. In fact, I am not at all certain, from your brief comments, that he has dementia at all. Please find a local physician (or return to his own doctor) who will be more respectful and involved in your husband's care. Your husband needs further testing and, certainly, close monitoring. I am alarmed at how he was treated in the initial stages of his ailment.
    To give you related information, because dementia is seen in Alzheimer's disease, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Alzheimer's Disease." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092-0167. Be sure to mention the title.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: A family member cooks all food without salt or pepper. Her food is very bland. I can understand no salt, but she states pepper causes holes in your stomach. She states her doctor told her this. I've never heard of this. Have you?
    DEAR READER: Never. It sounds like bunkum. A salt restriction is appropriate for elderly people or those with high blood pressure, but, as far as I know, the use of modest amounts of pepper will not seriously affect the stomach.
    Nonetheless, if your family member feels comfortable omitting pepper in her cooking, I support her position and suggest that you add pepper to your portion of her meals.

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