Butter, arm, pole, shore, cabin, queen, ticket, grass, letter, engine
What do these words have to do with each other? Nothing at all, yet they might help me win the brain game. They are ten words I had to remember today during a test of the MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) Screen—thought to be 97 percent accurate—done at the Orange County Vital Aging Program offices. They’re located at hoag Neurosciences Institute in Newport Beach, Calif.—and no, the view wasn’t bad, either, from the grounds of hoag Hospital.
The program wants you to test your brain today so it’s still functioning tomorrow, and urges you to adopt strategies to reduce risk for multiple medical conditions. The things that break your body also break your brain. On the program’s site, you can do a memory self-assessment and depression self-assessment as well as risk factor identification. Although it may “hurt” to know the truth about yourself, the more you know, the more you can do now to ensure your optimal brain function in later years.
Play to win the brain game
And, just like you see your healthcare provider annually for a check-up, the program urges you to have an in-person memory assessment each year—my assessment cost $45, a subsidized fee. You should share your results with your primary care physician. If depression or medications, for example, are causing you to forget, you and your doctor can work on that together and possibly produce measurable results.
From the program, here are brain facts you need to know about developing Alzheimer’s disease:
- Most people with the disease are 65 years or older, and likelihood of getting it doubles approximately every five years after age 65—it reaches nearly 50 percent by age 85.
- You have a higher risk if a first-degree relative has the disease.
The following medical conditions put you at risk:
- stroke, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and head injury
- also, obesity, severe estrogen or testosterone deficiency, certain cancer treatments, alcohol orchemical abuse, regular tobacco use now or in the past, unhealthy diet, depression, social isolation, lack of mental or physical exercise
Take steps now
Now you can take the tests noted above online, but to take an MCI screen or other memory test ask your healthcare provider, primary care physician, or call your county mental health office. Your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter can also probably help direct you.
Oh, and I passed the test. I can even still remember those ten words! I’ll check back next year—if I can remember!