Ron was a 63-year-old retired Army sergeant. He went for a physical at his wife Sheila’s urging.

Case Study

Ron was a 63-year-old retired Army sergeant. He went for a physical at his wife Sheila’s urging. She was worried because Ron had become increasingly clumsy, including tripping and falling. He had difficulty hearing, and his memory seemed to be failing. Ron couldn’t remember what day it was or what he had done two days ago, but he seemed to remember older memories just fine. Ron’s father was in the last stages of Alzheimer’s. Could Ron have the disease too? In addition to the routine exam and laboratory tests, the doctor asked some screening questions. She made it a habit to ask a particular question of all her adult patients: “On any one occasion during the past three months, have you had more than five alcoholic drinks?” Ron’s affirmative reply caused the doctor to probe more deeply and to consider that alcoholism and the memory loss associated with Korsekoff’s syndrome, a neurological disorder caused by the lack of vitamin B1 in the brain, might be Ron’s primary issue. By taking time to compassionately address his issues, the physician was able to convince Ron to check himself into treatment.

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