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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Mr. and Mrs. Smith/   Editorial List

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Mr. & Mrs. Smith


I was leaving the conference hall where the 22nd annual conference held by the Western Carolina Alzheimer’s Association had just concluded. It was an honor to be asked to speak at the event especially since it was aptly titled, Support for Today's Caregiver. The event was held on a perfect fall day, crisp and clear, with a cloudless Carolina blue sky. Walking from the conference hall to the car which would take me back to the airport, I took my time to relish in the sights and smells that can only be experienced on such a day in such a place.

Walking beside me was a nice looking middle aged couple; let’s call them Dan and Jane Smith for the sake of anonymity (if not literary originality). Jane started to talk as we walked together, saying that she had liked the conference very much, enjoyed my speech and that of Dr. James Burke from Duke University who spoke in the session after mine. She told me that when her family’s loved one was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the doctor told them that they were dealing with FTD and that they should come in for another appointment in four months. Later that night, convinced that he wasn’t talking about the floral distribution organization, she looked up the initials and was aghast to find out that in this case FTD stood for frontotemporal dementia. To her credit, she immediately called the doctor and demanded more information, and a better bedside manner.

Dan Smith, who looked like a college professor complete with tweed jacket and wire-rimmed glasses added “I’ve been in education most of my life and I‘ve noticed that the challenge of Alzheimer’s disease is usually to be found in the lack of communication.”  Although this seems like an obvious statement for anyone with a loved one living with memory disorder to make, Dan was actually referring to the health care professionals that he has met since his own diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago.  I think, we can all still learn a thing or two from Professor Smith.   

Gary Barg

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