Have you ever been caught flat footed?
That happened to me on my first public speaking engagement. I was talking to a group on Catalina Island about a research study and the health benefits of social dancing (SD).
During the Q&A, I was asked, “Why hasn’t the medical community promoted the health benefits of social dancing?” It was a great question but caught me completely flat footed. I did not know the answer.
However, being caught flat footed inspired me to find out the answer to that question.
When we got home from the presentation, we looked up that study one more time. Joe Verghese was the first doctor enumerated on the report. The next morning I spoke with his administrative assistant. She told me that Dr. Joe spearheaded the 2003 research. About a week later, I spoke with Dr. Verghese and asked him, “Why hasn’t the medical community promoted the health benefits of social dancing?” He said simply, “Lack of funding. There are so many research projects competing for the same government dollars, there is not enough to go around, especially with the cuts in research funding”.
The reason why this is important: My wife and I competed in ballroom dancing. We love the health and social aspects that dancing offers and want to see it grow. My mother also had Alzheimer’s. We have seen up close and personal the emotional and financial cost of this all consuming disease.
Today there are an estimated 5 million people with dementia (1). Moreover, it cost about $200 billion to treat and care for this disease….more than heart disease and cancer combined. By the year 2050, every 30 seconds a person will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s. It’s also estimated there will be 16 million people with dementia at a cost of $1.1 trillion. That’s almost a 500% increase from today. Another factoid: Federally we spend $127 per person with Alzheimer’s. Compare that to the $3,400 we spend on each person with HIV.
After a few phone conversations with Dr. Joe, I decided to go see him. He is the chief neurologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM) in New York. The purpose for the meeting was to:
We came away from the meeting with Dr. Joe very impressed. He is sincere, authentic and someone we felt comfortable partnering with. His facilities are first class, capabilities are world class and he has over 100 peer-reviewed publications on cognition, mobility and mood during the aging process. We also got agreement that SD would be the focus of the follow-up study.
In 1988, there were 125 countries afflicted with polio. Rotary International (RI) established a goal to eliminate polio from the planet (2). Today, polio has been eradicated from 99% of those countries. I believe if we adopted a similar position as RI in regards to Alzheimer’s, we could play a major role in providing a solution that will significantly reduce its crippling effects.