My mom used to laugh about my teen-age way of requesting purchases outside the family budget. I approached it in stages. First was Mom, I want … She typically heard me, but the request was largely ignored until I ramped it up to the more strongly stated Stage Two: Mom, I need … By this time, my mother was paying attention but still waiting for the more insistent, dramatic Stage Three: Mom! I’ve just GOT to have …! At that point, she knew the matter wasn’t going away.
Some personality traits stick with us throughout life. I still tend to build my point gradually. The issue of proactive vs. reactive thinking that I introduced in my earlier blog, An Ounce of Prevention, is an example. Let’s just call that Stage One. I’m getting louder and a little more serious in today’s post. I’m at the second, Mom, I need … stage.
Please keep in mind that there’s always a trigger for my blogs. This is not about any specific person or situation. It’s really more about general observations that reveal a pattern. I am just saying, healthcare providers need to think more proactively than reactively in the care of people with chronic progressive disorders. This includes but of course is not limited to the areas served by my profession.
It can be pretty much certain that people diagnosed with disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, and head and neck cancer will at some point experience declines in communication, cognition, and/or swallowing. Treatments may exacerbate those problems. If we think proactively, referrals will be made to a Speech-Language Pathologist and/or other rehabilitation professionals for baseline evaluation and education at the time of diagnosis. Vulnerable domains can then be monitored for changes and early treatment or compensatory strategies initiated to preserve function as much as possible.
Unfortunately, our system is mostly geared toward reactive thinking — trying to fix the problem or regain function once it’s already lost. I disagree with this approach. We really need to think more proactively so people with chronic disorders can retain their dignity and quality of life longer!
Am I naive? Am I asking for a Utopian solution that can’t possibly be achieved? I’d like to think not, but others may have different opinions. It would be hard to convince me that proactive thinking in modern healthcare is a futile pipe dream, but I’ll listen (or read) if you want to try. Of course, I’d love it if you agree with me so we can all work together to change our collective way of acting by reacting.
I’m still just sayin’…
Cyndee Williams Bowen is a Speech-Language Pathologist and owner of Bowen Speech-Language Therapy, LLC in
Clearwater, FL. She provides quality, creative, collaborative treatment to adults and adolescents with communication,
swallowing, Parkinson’s, and related disorders.