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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

June 16, 2005

peridementia and our aging knowledge workers

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:56 pm

Do you suffer from “peridementia“? Would you want to hire a lawyer or

doctor, or any knowledge worker, who did? 

Similar to perimenopause, what I call peridementia is the period

before actual dementia occurs, in which the subject starts to have

a mild version of the loss of intellectual capacity that is associated

with dementia — i.e., impairment of attention, orientation, memory,

judgment, language, motor and spatial skills, and function (not

caused by major depression).

To be called dementia, the symptoms have to be severe enough to ekgG

“interfere with social or occupational functioning.” I’ve been wondering,

however, just when interference with job functioning becomes significant

enough that something needs to be said and done about it.

If my otherwise-healthy, middle class and professional, over-50 friends are

any indication, there’s a lot of peri-dementia going around. People who joked

a few years ago about their first batch of Senior Moments, aren’t joking any

more. We seem to be having “brainos” that are quite a bit more worrisome than

the increased numbers of typos found in our documents. They include episodes of

mild confusion and disorientation; skipping steps in necessary tasks; and memory

lapses considerably more important than the proverbial word on the tip of our tongues.


what did you forget?
retracing steps

ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue

I’ve been meaning to talk about this topic here at f/k/a for several months, but

I kept forgetting (rim shot!). A spate of news stories finally got me to buckle

down and do some thinking, linking and posting. Baby Boomers, and generations

to follow, are going to be working longer — some because they have to and some

because they want to do so.

  • That’s what everyone is saying, from Merrill Lynch (in its

    New Retirement Survey, Feb. 2005), the New York Times

    (“In Overhaul of Social Security, Age Is the Elephant in the

    Room, June 12, 2005) and USNews (“The Big Squeeze,”

    June 13, 2005), here in the United States, to the Ottawa Business

    Journal in Canada (“Aging boomers will have to work longer,”

    Oct. 7, 2003) and Australia’s (“Baby boomers miss

    out on retirement, June 6, 2005). AARP has special programs

    to help the over-50 crowd find jobs and companies hire them.

    And, the columnist John Tierney thinks the government should

    be setting policy to ensure that workers retire later (NYT, “The

    Old and the Rested”, June 14, 2005)

NYT‘s John Tierney is correct that “If the elderly were willing to work longer,

there would be lower taxes on everyone and fewer struggling young families.

There would be more national wealth and tax revenue available to help the

needy.” (He, and NYT‘s Toner and Rosenbaum, are also correct that even

raising the issue of higher retirement ages amounts to political suicide — or,

at least, early political retirement.) Watching some remarkable amateur

athletes in their late 60s and early 70s, Tierney asks (emphasis added): “Is

it possible that people this age are still physically capable of putting in a full

day’s work at the office?” Living with and seeing peri-dementia a decade or

more before the “normal” retirement age, I ask “Who’s going to be mentally

capable of putting in a full or half day at the office in their 60s and 70s?”

the aging gourd
and I
cast our shadows

…………………………………  ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue


When AARPers and union leaders resist the notion of indexing Social Security spiltBucketG

to longevity, or otherwise postponing retirement further, they usually point to

people who do physically-demanding jobs. (They also ask just where all the

jobs are going to come from for the Baby Boomers who need or want to

continue working.) Profesors Becker and Posner recently asked about judges

and law professors who “Overstay Their Welcome.” Judge Poser noted that a

loss in mental capacity from aging “may reduce the value of [their] entire output to

zero,” but he focused on septuagenarians. I’m thinking that a noticeable reduction

in intellectual output — or a significant increase in errors — could very well occur

long before the traditional retirement age.


Since Merrill Lynch says that “76% of boomers intend to keep working and earning”

after retiring from their regular job, peridementia could become quite important. Consider

the Boomers who have no choice but to continue working due to financial imperatives.

What are their actual or potential employers, and co-workers, going to do about peri-

dementia? How should ethical requirements of competence affect the choices made

by lawyers and other professionals? Will age discrimination laws become a shield for those

who aren’t quite as sharp as they used to be? Does society want to offer such protection?

the dragonfly, too
works late…
night fishing

ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue

I used to joke that Baby Boomers would always be able to get jobs, because

— unlike a lot of younger folk — we can alphabetize. However, a few sessions

shelving books by author at our Library’s Used Book Store has me a bit less

cocky on this score. I’ve been experiencing the same torpid shelving speed

(and fumbling around at the cash register) that I had associated with some of

the blue-haired-lady volunteers. This performance might be acceptable from

volunteers, but who’s going to pay for it? And, what about analogous, but more

crucial, malfunctioning by knowledge workers?

with the old pine
the two of us…
forgetting the year


………………….. ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue


I wish more webloggers, and our readers, were near or over 50, so I could spiltWine

get some first-hand reactions to these questions. (Of course, anonymity might be

very important, if we were to open the floor to braino confessions.) Is the problem

far less significant that I’ve suggested — either because my personal episodes have

more to do with having CFS that with being 55, or because the complaints of my

friends and associates are just typical Boomer self-absorption and exaggeration.

the bees with children
are work-a-holics…
making honey


………………………… ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue

NewMind Daniel Pink’s new book, A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age

to the Conceptual Age (2005), may offer some hope for Boomers whose brains are less

analytically sharp, but whose emotional intelligence is still increasing. Pink says we have

left the Information Age behind and entered a new Conceptual Age — where it will be right-

brain thinking, rather than left-brain skills, that will bring career success. We simply need to

develop the six senses that Pink calls Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning.

Mark Williams, M.D., author of The American Geriatrics Society’s “Complete Guide to Aging

and Health,” says, “The fear of dementia is stronger than the fear of death itself.” I hope I haven’t

increased your anxiety with this posting. If you’d like to guard against or diminish peridementina,

you should find some excellent tips at Making Our Minds Last a Lifetime (Psychology Today,

by Katherine Greider, Dec. 1996), and Dementia Prevention: Brain Exercise. What’s the secret

to keeping our brains agile and fit? Greider says, “mental and physical challenges are both

strongly connected to cerebral fitness.” And, so is taking the time for leisure activity. As for

those occasional brainos, I’ve got you covered — at least for now.


p.s. To Lawyers Young and Old: The Greider article stresses that “A

sense of self-efficacy may protect our brain, buffeting it from the harmful

effects of stress.” According to the work of Marilyn Albert, Ph.D., of the

Harvard Medical School:

[T]here’s evidence that elevated levels of stress hormones

may harm brain cells and cause the hippocampus–a small

seahorse-shaped organ that’s a crucial moderator of memory–

to atrophy. A sense that we can effectively chart our own

course in the world may retard the release of stress hormones

and protect us as we age. “It’s not a matter of whether you

experience stress or not,” Albert concludes, “it’s your attitude

toward it.

surprising the worker
in the field…
out-of-season blooms

ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue


by dagosan:

forgetting the name

of the pretty one —

the tip of my tongue

…….. [June 16, 2005]

afterthought:  Don’t miss our magnum opus “The Graying Bar: Don’t Forget the Ethics”  (March 20, 2007)

there’s no business

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 5:17 pm


A question for slander and defamation experts:   Is there anything a small 

not-for-profit like the American Antitrust Institute can do when it is called a

criminal organization” by the Voluntary Trade Council?  VTC has classified

AAI as a “criminal organization:”

“because the group uses funds confiscated through taxation and

extortion to attack free market principles and constitutionally-

protected liberties.”

What did AAI do?  As we reported here, it is accepting funds from the  jailbird neg

Antitrust Vitamin Price Fixing Settlement, which will be used to make an

educational video about the antitrust laws.  VTC, whose president is one

S.M. “Sandy” Oliva, recently described itself in Tunney Act Comments to

the U.S. Justice Department as:

[A] nonpartisan educational organization that analyzes the

antitrust and competition laws from a pro-reason, pro-capitalism


On its website, VTC states that its “approach combines the principles of

rational ethics, libertarian political theory, and the Austrian School of

economics, to repudiate contemporary antitrust theories and practices.”


update (Oct. 1, 2005): see our post Voluntary T[i]rade Council for

another round between VTC and AAI.



tiny check  Around here, we’re pro-antitrust and pro-haiku:



unpacking a new home —
do whales strand themselves
in this bay?






drifting seed fluff . . .
the rented horse
knows an hour’s worth





a child’s laugh

the first plum blossoms

high in the trees



drifting seed fluff . .” & “unpacking a new home” – The Heron’s Nest

“a child’s laugh” — Snapshots #9



tiny check  My income may be too low to attract a high-class p/i lawyer        “ethelMerman” orig.

(see our June 14th potluck), but I think I’ve suffered tortious mental

anguish due to the wreckless (and certainly knowing) behaviour of

a local morning “drive time” talk-show host, named Don Weeks.  Early

last week,  my clock radio woke me to a segment of Mr. Weeks’ AM

show in which he was complaining about the voice of Ethel Merman

Weeks pointed out how, as a youth, he had to suffer through a

Merman tune just to see the rest of the Ed Sullivan Show.  Then, to

my dismay, he had his engineer cue up and play part of Ms. Merman’s

signature song, “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”  That was

a particularly traumatic way to begin any day, and might in and of itself

be actionable.  However, as Don Weeks should have anticipated, that

damn song has been playing in my head ever since.  Help!  Do I have

a case!  I’m sure Weeks’ radio station, WGY (a Clear Channel Station),

has deeeeep pockets, as does Don, after 25 years on the air.


birthdayCakeS  Happy Birthday to My Big Sister, Linda!!  Every year, she seems

to get more and more youthful, when compared to her 18-months-younger twin

brothers.  But, I’d like to think she is a symbol of what good geriatric genes we

have in our family.   I appreciate her more every year as a friend and confidante.

I’ll save the gushy stuff for offline.  Best wishes, always, Linda.  Click here and

scroll down for pictures over the years of the Giacalone sibs. 


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