This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving, and the McLeod family in Winnipeg has a little extra to be thankful for now that 69-year old patriarch Joe McLeod will be home to celebrate with them. Joe, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, had been in jail since Sept. 7 facing assault charges after pushing his wife Rose to the ground. Rose, who does not want Joe to face criminal charges, says she had been showing him a picture of the pair of them together when he pushed her down, because Joe’s illness caused him to have a moment in which he did not recognize her.
As you can imagine, the McLeod’s ordeal has prompted much debate in Canada about how Alzheimer’s sufferers are treated by both the medical and legal professions. Science is still unraveling the complexities of what precisely causes Alzheimer’s, and as yet there is no cure, but there are steps one can take to mitigate the effects of the disease. Dr. Jeffrey Cummings, a leading Alzheimer’s researcher, is on record as stating that regular mental stimulation can help stave off the risk of developing dementia. A 2009 French study involving 5,000 subjects showed that mental activities such as playing poker (and other card games) as little as twice a week provides as much as a 50% reduction in the risk of acquiring dementia.
It’s estimated that by 2050, 1 in every 85 people worldwide will suffer from Alzheimer’s. With the costs of treating and providing care for Alzheimer’s patients ranging from $20-75K every year, the cumulative costs will be staggering. In Canada, and other countries in which socialized medicine is the norm, you could make the argument that one has a moral obligation to lessen the burden on taxpayers by regularly logging on to your favorite online poker site. Hey, even if you end up losing a little money, you may get to hold on to your marbles a little while longer, and you can’t put a price tag on that.