Tuesday, March 20, 2007

We are losing our brain in more ways than one. We either never develop it or it rots away. A couple of interesting statistics came out today that are in some ways related. It has been determined that one third of the people living in Washington DC are illiterate. I lived there several years ago and am actually surprised by that number. It is lower than I would have guessed. I suspected it would have been closer to two thirds being illiterate. The numbers must have not included all the federal employees and elected officials on Capitol Hill. The criteria for being considered illiterate are the inability to read a bus schedule, read a map or fill out a job application. I suspect the federal employees and congressmen must have been excluded from the survey since somehow they have filled out a job application in the past.
The other disturbing bit of news today also had to do with the brain or lack of one. The number of Alzheimers cases has greatly increased in the past few years. It is now estimated that about 5 million people in the US have Alzheimers and the number is increasing. There will be an estimated 7.7 million by 2030. They say 1 in 8 people over 65 are affected and 1 in 2 of those over 85.
I was reminded recently of the great advances in medicine in the past 10 years which made me realize I am an old fossil. We are keeping people alive longer by helping their heart disease and improving survival for cancer. Working out and jogging are now very popular but this produces wear and tear on the joints. All this leads to old age with total joint replacements and arthritis topped off by the loss of your brain from Alzheimers. The politicians are complaining about the lack of health care for the poor and the large number of people without health insurance. As it turns out, these may be the lucky ones.
It would sure be nice to keep my brain and just quietly fade away rather than being ravaged with the infirmities of age brought on by modern medicine.


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