Media reports today feature the news that medical researchers have now developed a test or series of tests which can tell any individual their supposed ‘brain age’ – and therefore their likelihood of suffering the onset of dementia.
See here for an example – by Ian Johnston in THE INDEPENDENT
There seems to be an essential truth behind the general drive to try and move people away from making unhealthy lifestyle choices, e.g. drinking, smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet. However I am not personally as bothered as some about potential ‘nanny State interference’ in our lives – worries over which are already being expressed about this latest advance regarding dementia.
Human being makes lifestyle choices every day. Full-cooked ‘greasy spoon-style’ breakfasts when they could have had muesli and nuts. Smoking cigarettes and taking drugs (or not). Eight pints instead of a single glass of fine wine. Couch-potatoing in front of the television in preference to going out to walk a mile in the park. Adopting a basic diet of fast, instead of healthy, food.
Inevitably, lifestyle choices have consequences. I’m not going to list them all, but let’s just mention the old chestnuts of ‘smoking kills’ and that bad dietary habits can lead to complications such as diabetes and obesity.
Forget mandatory enforcement – that’s plainly out – but I’m wholly in favour of informing the public of the facts (provided they can be agreed!).
Then, if people persist in smoking or eating fast food by choice, at least they can be presumed to have done so out of free choice in all the circumstances … and therefore can be left to confront the likely outcomes, plus perhaps acknowledge some personal responsibility for what happens to them if they persist in making or perpetuating the ‘wrong’ choices.
Separately, if you have a health problem (however trivial or indeed worrying) it is always worth going to the doctor to check. It’s always better to know what you’re up against …
For me, forcing people to face up to the facts is a worthwhile exercise in any event. What they choose to do afterwards is up to them. I’m not taking a high-handed view here because not everyone has deep reserves of will-power like me and – if people need help to wean themselves off their bad habits – I’m all for giving it.
That said, if people don’t heed warnings and/or adopt a “So what?” attitude and simply carry on pursuing their unhealthy lifestyle, I’d let them get on with it. To the extent that as a result they’re taking months or years off their longevity, that’s up to them and therefore hopefully a lesser eventual cost of taxpayer-funded healthcare and national pension for the rest of us.
I’m all for this latest idea that my GP should tell me where upon the dementia spectrum I’ve currently reached. I’d rather know than not. Especially if, fingers crossed, I am given the ‘all clear’ …
[Now – if only I could remember what I was intending to write about when I began penning this piece …]