This month’s CE article, “Early Intervention in Patients with Poststroke Depression,” hit home for me. It brought back memories of my Aunt Rita’s decline from a once-vibrant and independent career woman. As authors Gwendolyn Hamid and Meredith MacKenzie note, poststroke depression “often goes unrecognized and untreated because the physical and cognitive repercussions of stroke make it difficult to identify.”
Aunt Rita lived alone in an old Victorian house in Massachusetts. She was fun-loving and lively and enjoyed going to the theater and dinner in Manhattan, shopping, and sipping a beer and rooting for the Red Sox and Boston Bruins—especially when she was with her New York nieces and nephews. When she had cardiac bypass surgery in her 70s, however, things changed drastically. She didn’t bounce back from surgery. Aunt Rita was slow and tentative in moving about and became quiet and withdrawn. A niece came to live with her as a caregiver, but Aunt Rita didn’t seem to want to eat, drink, or even bathe. Her physician diagnosed organic brain disease secondary to the effects of a stroke.
About three months later, I drove up from New York to visit her along with my mother (Rita’s younger […]