Lost in Translation
I enter the small waiting room in the memory clinic just before 9 a.m. Shortly thereafter, Mr. and Mrs. R arrive to learn the results of the cognitive evaluation they had each undergone two weeks earlier. Mrs. R is 67 years old and Mr. R is 72 years old and they have both recently retired. As they begin talking about the groceries that they need to get at the Safeway on their way home, the ease with which they converse suggests a long and intimate relationship. They seem nonchalant about the information they have come to hear. Having observed their initial testing and learned from them at that time that they simply “came in to get a baseline” in the event of future memory troubles, their relaxed demeanor is as I would anticipate. When I first met them and observed their evaluations, it seemed clear to me that neither of them had any pathological memory difficulties. The following week, at the team conference, where cases are presented and diagnoses are determined at this clinic, I learned that Mr. R was very slightly below average and that Mrs. R was normal. No medical labels, as such, were used in reference to either of them....
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