Dont Take Any Medications Roberts Story

Robert Molson, a fifty-six-year-old man living in Greenwich Village, came to see me, stating that his memory had begun to decline, he was forgetting names more easily, and he was misplacing things more often. He was afraid he was getting Alzheimer's disease. He worked as a paralegal and hadn't yet run into problems at work, but he did point out that nothing short of a disastrous performance on his part would even be noticed in the New York City court system. He also had financial problems that were a source of constant worry.

He had no risk factors for dementia, and no neurological or psychiatric signs or symptoms on examination. I asked him if he was taking any medications.

"No," he replied bluntly.

Unfazed, I systematically went through a checklist of all possible medicines that people take for memory loss.

"Do you take ginkgo biloba?" I asked.

''Oh, ginkgo? That's a natural substance I get in a health food store; it's not a medicine," he stated categorically.

"Anything else you get regularly from a health food store?"

"I've tried ginseng a few times. And I take saw palmetto because I want to prevent prostate problems as I grow older," he explained. "And when I have a sleep problem, I sometimes take melatonin."

On neuropsychological testing, he performed very well. I reviewed the results with him, and he was relieved to learn that he did not have Alzheimer's disease. Since his main fear was resolved, he decided that there was no point in learning more about preventing age-related memory loss; that was the last I saw of him.

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