Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rising Tide of Dementia

The Canadian Alzheimer Society has released a report called "Rising Tide", estimating that there will be a new diagnosis of dementia once every two minutes by 2038. Right now a new diagnosis of dementia happens once every five minutes. The reasons for this prediction are the increased life expectancy of the population, and ageing baby boomers. The implications of this prediction is that there will be an ever increasing burden on the health care system and caregivers as our population ages.

My gut reaction to this news was, "Well, cure it then!" It's about time we knew more about our brains. We have new imaging techniques, stronger analysis tools, and a greater understanding of the finest structures in our bodies. Consider how computing power and technological advances dramatically reduced the time required to decode the human genome.

I am reminded also of Michael J. Fox's ambition to find a cure and better treatments for patients with Parkinson's disease. His ambitious goal was to set up a foundation intent on finding a cure. This foundation has enjoyed spectacular success. I'm reminded also of a recent article about the Brain Observatory where a donated brain has been dissected, slice by slice, to better understand it's operation "Building a Search Engine of the Brain, Slice by Slice".

Do I really want another reason to dread the future, where an overburdened caregiving system sees me as yet another lump to be carried through the system? Wouldn't our time and money be best spent looking for causes, prevention, and cures? I wish all success to the Alzheimer's society. I hope our society sees this wake-up call as an opportunity to change our future, rather than with passivity.