July 01, 2013

Apps for Aging Lawyers: Prostheses for the Mind?

Nathaly J. Vermette

In the western world, where the average age of the population has steadily increased with advances in science, it stands to reason that the retirement age has also risen. Now that we are living longer, we fear that we may run out of money if we stop generating income too early.

But the aging workforce has also seen a rise in health-related issues. One such issue could be termed “watchamacallitism” or, more formally, mild cognitive impairment (MCI). We all know someone—a family member, a friend, or a colleague—either experiencing MCI or providing care to someone with the condition. In the past, MCI was easier to keep hush-hush, but with the increased number of people affected and remaining active in the workforce, it has become difficult to ignore.

MCI is a progressive disability that affects certain memory functions. It is a loss of the ability to access the memory at will. Some of the more common signs of impairment are searching for words or names, repeating oneself, and difficulty organizing tasks and thoughts. MCI is not a loss of intelligence, however. Access to long-term memory often stays intact while the short-term memory seems to be the most affected. The mind can be clouded one day and crystal clear the next. Although different from person to person, MCI is a condition that can, for most, be stabilized, if acknowledged and treated early. As such, it is an affliction to the brain, a disability.

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