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The Growing Problem of Dementia

By Terrance Malkinson

The 112-page report “Dementia: a Public Health Priority,” developed jointly by the World Health Organization and Alzheimer's Disease International was recently released.

This report is designed to raise awareness of the syndrome and the importance of taking action nationally and internationally as a public health priority. It is estimated that 35.6 million people worldwide are affected. Forecasts suggest that the number of people affected will double by 2030 and triple by 2050. There is lack of awareness and understanding of dementia. Dementia is a term for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. It is not a specific disease. In general, people with dementia are not able to think well enough to do normal activities. It is not only difficult for the individual where it affects their memory, thinking, and behavior, but is also difficult and in many cases overwhelming for caregivers, spouses and families. In reality the syndrome is so prevalent that almost everyone knows of someone affected. The U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health website provides a wealth of authoritative information on the condition.  Considerable research is ongoing to understand and find effective treatments. We all need to be sensitive to the challenges of those who have the syndrome, to their families, and caregivers. In particular we need to become aware of the early signs of dementia, get medically diagnosed and begin treatment as soon as possible.

Other Bytes

Here are some of the things going on in and around the community:

  • The cover story of the June 2012 issue of Inc. [“How to Be a Great Boss” pp. 68-76, www.inc.com] focuses on an examination of companies and leaders that have had exceptional performance despite operating in turbulent environments marked by constant surprises. The first article is an interview with Jim Collins co-author of the entrepreneurially focused book Great by Choice, where he discusses recent research on companies that have achieved productivity ten times the industry average. A second article “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Leader” provides a snapshot of the most prevalent types of leaders, further source of information on each leadership style, and people who exemplify each style.

  • A profile of Richard Branson [“The Good Sir Richard,” pp. 30-38] and his innovation strategies is provided by Jason Ankeny in the June 2012 issue of Entrepreneur [www.entrepreneur.com]. An interesting inset “Words of Wisdom” summarizes his five perspectives on building a business. A second article in the same issue of Entrepreneur [“100 Brilliant Companies to Watch,” pp. 52-68] provides detailed profiles of a number of technology companies and snapshots of others that are believed to be the best examples in this year’s annual survey of the innovation excellence.

  • “Solar Super Storms: How They Could Impact Our High-Tech World” is the cover story of the June 2012 issue of National Geographic [221(6): 36-53, www.ngm.com]. Timothy Ferris discusses the etiology and effects of solar storms to our planet. Ferris concludes with a suggestion that we should be doing more research on solar storms so that we are better able to predict their strength and likely arrival time. By doing so we might be able to take steps to prepare and mitigate the devastating effects that such extra-terrestrial events cause.

  • Ken Demead discusses father-son bonding through engagement in shared technology projects in his article “How to Be a Geek Dad” in the June 2012 issue of Wired [pp.126-139, www.wired.com]. Inspiring children at a young age to follow their ideas teaches them creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial skills that will serve them well as they pursue their education, as well as on the job.

  • The spotlight of the June 2012 issue of Harvard Business Review [90(6):64-94] is on leadership. Three articles discuss interesting topics, including: “How Managers Become Leaders”; “Leadership is a Conversation”; and “Leadership Development in the Age of the Algorithm.” Even though much has been written on leadership and one might wonder why more articles, the reality is that the business environment is not static; it is ever changing. Those who are successful take the time to become informed, analyze and implement where appropriate new ideas.

  • We are all aware of the increasing presence of the technology in financial transactions. Spectrum's June cover story, “The Last Days of Cash: How E-money Technology is Plugging us Into the Digital Economy” [49(6):27-64], focuses on a special report on the future of money.


Comments on this story may be emailed directly to Today's Engineer or submitted through our online form.


Terrance Malkinson is a communications specialist, business analyst and futurist. He is currently an international correspondent for IEEE-USA Today's Engineer, an associate editor for IEEE Canadian Review, and a member of the editorial advisory board of IEEE The Institute. He was Vice-Chair of the IEEE-USA Communications Committee (2004-2010), and editor-in-chief of IEEE-USA Today's Engineer Digest (2004-2008). He was an elected Senator of the University of Calgary and an elected Governor of the IEEE Engineering Management Society as well as an elected Administrative Committee member of the IEEE Professional Communication Society. He has been the editor of several IEEE conference proceedings, and past editor of IEEE Engineering Management. He is the author of more than 420 publications, and is an accomplished triathlete. His career path includes being an accomplished technical supervisor and medical researcher at the University of Calgary a business proposal manager for the General Electric Company, an associate for Sears Canada Inc. and research administrator with the School of Health and Public Safety/Applied Research and Innovation Services at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary Canada.

The author is grateful to the professional support of the Haskayne School of Business Library at the University of Calgary. He can be reached at todaysengineer@ieee.org.


Copyright © 2012 IEEE

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