Written by: Allison Liu, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Did you know that the signs of dementia can be seen on brain scan images decades before a diagnosis?
In my early 50s, there were times when I would forget what I was saying right in the middle of saying it, and struggle to remember decisions that had been made or meetings that had taken place. It was deeply unnerving and I started to fear that people would question my capability. But rather than bury my head in the sand, I decided to do something about it.
Far from being a sudden deterioration of the brain, the road to dementia is very gradual, which is why it is easy to dismiss the early signs; walking into a room and not remembering why you went there, forgetting appointments, misplacing keys or finding it hard to recall words you have not used for a while.
These are not too concerning in isolation – we all have the occasional memory lapses. But if you start noticing them more frequently, then I would encourage you to take your brain health seriously. This is especially true for women in midlife, who are twice as likely as men to get dementia.
This is why taking a regular cognitive function test is so important. These tests are designed to assess various mental processes such as perception, memory, learning, attention, decision-making, and language abilities, and then highlight areas for improvement. It is a way of auditing your brain health just like a bank statement tells you the health of your finances.
You do not have to go to your doctor to take one, although I would strongly advise doing so if you are concerned about your memory. There are several options online, such as Cognifit and Luminosity, which also have daily exercises and suggestions that are tailored to improve the areas of your brain that need some attention. These tests give valuable insights into your current cognitive abilities.
If you are still not sure whether or not to take the plunge there are four benefits you do not want to miss out on.
1. Early detection of cognitive decline
Doing a regular cognitive function test is like going to your dentist for check-ups; you know that it is best to deal with any problems early on and you make brushing and flossing your teeth every day a priority to try to reduce your risk for fillings, crowns, and root canals. In the same way, cognitive function tests can help improve early detection of problems by more than nine times. This is good news, as treatment options and lifestyle adjustments are more likely to be effective the earlier you take action.
2. Tracking cognitive health over time
When you regularly take a test you can track your cognitive health over time. This allows you to identify patterns, such as consistently high or low results in certain areas, and changes, such as any improvements or deterioration. This equips you to proactively manage the health of your brain.
3. Motivation for lifestyle changes
Knowing the health of your brain, however, is just the start. The results can then serve as motivation for adopting a brain-healthy lifestyle. When faced with choices, you are more likely to follow through on your commitment to do the good and avoid the bad. This is especially important as up to 80% of dementia cases could be prevented or delayed with dietary and lifestyle changes.
4. Empowering personalized brain health strategies
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to brain health as we all have a different combination of risk factors. Cognitive testing is, therefore, an important piece of the puzzle, as the results can help you develop personalized brain health strategies. With the right tailored approaches, based on your individual results, you can make faster progress.
Please do not let fear stop you from taking proactive steps towards improving your cognitive well-being. By acknowledging the warning signs and addressing them head-on, you can significantly reduce the risk of future memory problems. Take a few minutes now to complete a cognitive function assessment and commit to taking action to safeguard the health of your brain.
By prioritizing your cognitive well-being today, you’ll be better equipped to face the future with confidence and clarity. And don’t forget to share this article with your friends, so they too can join you on the journey toward a sharper mind.
Allison Liu, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Allison Liu, a brain health coach and expert in helping people get their brain younger, healthier and stronger, struggled with early warning signs of memory loss in her late forties. Forgetting what she was saying in the middle of saying it, feeling increasingly irritable and struggling with panic attacks, she felt she was losing her sense of self. Adopting a science-based approach, which she uses with her clients today, she increased her own ‘brain reserve’, improving her memory, mood and relationships. She now coaches clients around the world through a personalised plan to prevent or slow down cognitive decline so they can remain present with those they love. Her mission: Staying sharp for life.