At one of my recent talks, someone asked me why I was so active promoting brain health, cognitive health? My answer at the time was “Because we didn’t know, but now we do! Now that we know we have to do something about it.” My answer may have had context after a talk, but not here. So, I filled in the middle between “We didn’t know” and “Now we know and have to do something about it.” It came out as
EVOLUTION’S JOKE Based on our structure and physical capabilities we, as humans, should never have survived. But evolution provided us with opposable thumbs and a unique brain with the capability for learning, reasoning, problem solving, planning, conceptual thought, and complex communication. The brain that evolved provided us with a gateway into a world that went far beyond our natural surroundings. It was a world we could create and expand.
The evolution of the human brain has given us fire, tools, the wheel, electricity, the telescope, cars, the steam engine, the train, the telephone, radio, the plane, television, digital electronics, space ships, to mention a few, and we’ve wiped out or controlled numerous diseases. Our evolutionary success has even led to an increasingly older population.
Those are incredible accomplishments EXCEPT, that our older population, programmed to retire at the age of 65, has no defined societal age role and is plagued with memory loss, cognitive decline and dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is at the top of the charts with vascular dementia a nearby second.