My favourite speech therapist has all sorts of handy tests to see if you are losing it or going do(o)lally as ancient slang would have it. Btw that is a toponym – the phrase originates in a hill station in India called Deolali where sahibs were sent either if they were mad or eccentric or else being there made them so – it is not clear which. But of course even knowing this makes your mental condition highly suspect even before embarking on those tests to see how many animals you can recall off the top of your head. Fail that lot now and your doctor collects £50 while you never pass Go again – as far as you can remember.
Charting our Decline
Now come our friends at the Biobank eager as ever (all in a good cause) to chart the decline of the cohorts of the over 50 – where age certainly does do the withering thing – beset by obesity, indolence, the alcohol and now our failing mental powers. The questionnaire starts with gentle enquiries about how miserable you were last week – was just about to score right up there on the ‘are you totally and constantly happy’ scale when… wait a minute – that makes you sound manic and bi-polar but on a good day. Much safer to go for the mid-point on the scale glossing over the impact of the hangover from Sunday lunch. Is the answer ‘much happier before getting your wretched questionnaire’ when for a moment I had managed to forget the savage impact of the onset of periodontal break-down.
Whatever the truth of that, the receipt of a questionnaire that clocks your mental condition at a fairly elementary level does invoke questions of reciprocity. I have sent an email asking whether we get feedback on some form of functional scale – at one end ‘Einstein lives!’ and the other extreme some pithy but kindly phrase indicating a very limited range of mental ability. I would like to know. No reply yet. This was the topic raised in the blog referencec earlier about payback for participation by individuals. You can go on the Biobank site and look at aggregated data on the topic of your choice but there is no feedback or enhanced access offered to individuals who provided the data.