I’ve got to go and be tested for Alzheimer’s next week.
Not that I have it, or have any indications of it. I am one of a useful crowd. The UK Biobank is assembling half a million people under the age of 70, calling us in and recording details about our lifestyle, environment and genes in a session of around 90 minutes. Then they’ll track everybody and see if they can tell why some people develop particular diseases while others don’t.
Dementia and Alzheimers is on the increase – 700,000 people suffering from it right now, and two thirds of those are women (I wonder why?). In 2025, it is estimated that there’ll be over 2 million. So helping in this research is a good thing to do.
I know it means no more than that. But at the same time, it still feels like a tap on the shoulder. (Two million people… hard to envisage. What’s the percentage per head of population?) And so did the notice from the DVLA warning me that my driving licence that I’ve had for ever will run out, and I need to tell them if I am still safe to drive. So quickly? I think. Where did all those years go?? I am not ready for this. Shome mishtake surely, to quote Private Eye. It’s nudges like these – impersonal communications from distant bodies who look just at birthdates and make assumptions – that shove my face right up against the brick wall of ageing. The gulf between statistics and feeling is vast.