I knew that headline would get your attention.
Many people I know who are over 50 are concerned about getting some form of dementia. Either it runs in their family or they have watched others suffer. In either case, it’s not a pretty picture. In fact, it’s downright horrifying.
I often tell myself that since I keep my mind so busy I don’t really have to worry about it. We have all read reports, and I have even written posts, about electronic mind games that keep your brain sharp. While I want desperately to believe an active mind is preventative of dementia, it is highly likely that it doesn’t mean a thing.
We had a client who was celebrated as one of the most feared entertainment trial lawyers in the country because of his wins. We actually worked for him for over a decade and watched him protect the financial rights of The Beatles, Billy Joel, Elton John, Eddie Murphy, and more. He had a mind that was sharper and more calculating than most. Other lawyers used to line up to work with him.
His 50th birthday celebration was in Bobby DeNiro’s restaurant, the TriBeCa Grill, which was brand new at the time. The party was star-studded and filled with so much energy that I actually pinched myself to believe I was part of his crowd.
Sometime after that, he started doing strange things, some of them very eccentric, but we all thought that was just his wacky, genius personality. Then he displayed big emotional swings that were unexplainable. After that, he couldn’t remember simple words and his whole life spiraled downhill.
I could go on forever about this guy because if there was ever a mind that you would think would be the last to get dementia, it was his. We watched him descend from one of the greatest lives anyone could ever want to one of the most feared.
By the time he was 60, he had spent a decade being taken care of by a nurse in his downtown loft right near our Flatiron office. I often found myself standing outside his building trying to find solace. For years I wouldn’t go inside to visit him because the deterioration was too much to bear.
Finally, his adult daughters (their devotion to him should be made into a book or a movie) convinced me to see him one last time. Of course Eliot went with me, but it was still a very painful yet a profound experience. Shame on me for not going more.
The reason I am telling you all this is because there is great hope for many of us in that dementia may now be quickly diagnosed in routine visits to your doctor. The promise from the medical world is that they are working on ways to slow it down so we can live full, active lives for decades after early detection.
The iPad (or other tablets like it) is going to play a major role in this development. What used to take years to predict will now take 10 minutes for your physician.
One company, Cantab, is developing a new iPad app from Cambridge Cognition that will become available within a year. The technology, based on testing developed at the University of Cambridge, is designed to be easy for doctors and patients to use together.
Watch the video for a better explanation. Trust me, there are hundreds of applications that are being developed along these lines. I have read about them over the years but when I recently learned about this one, I decided to share.