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Posted by CounterPoint Health Services on 05/26/2022

Mind your Memory - Check, test, prevent, and treat cognitive decline

Mind your Memory - Check, test, prevent, and treat cognitive decline

You only get one. Brain, that is. That is why brain health is so essential for healthy aging. 

Whether you are concerned about a loved one who is frequently forgetting things or noticing a change in your own memory, it’s important to take proactive steps to care for your brain. 

Below are some simple steps everyone can take to protect their memories and enrich their brains.

1. Check – Often, individuals or loved ones may notice subtle signs of cognitive decline long before they mention the problem or seek medical attention. “There is typically a two-to-four-year gap between when a person notices cognitive problems and when they talk to a doctor,” explained Dr. William Mansbach, CEO and founder of Mansbach Health Tools, LLC and CEO of CounterPoint Health Services. “That is a lot of lost time—time that could have been spent seeking treatments and preventing further decline.”

If you feel like your memory is failing, or if you are noticing that mom is repeating herself and forgetting everyday tasks, don’t wait. Take action. Talk to a primary care physician. Start taking notes when you notice memory lapses. There are tools available to help you quantify what you think you are experiencing. Use them.

2. Test, Level 1 – One of the most powerful, reliable ways to evaluate your memory is an online screening tool called myMemCheck®. The tool is backed by science and has been peer-reviewed. It is the best cognitive self-assessment available to consumers. If a loved one is not computer savvy, you can assist them with taking the online test. The free tool is available at enrichvisits.com.

Test results are emailed and can be shared with loved ones or primary care physicians. If the test shows signs of memory decline, the results will suggest a follow-up conversation with a doctor. Sharing the report with the doctor is a good place to start the conversation about memory loss. 

It is essential that individuals consult with a medical professional after receiving results that indicate a potential problem from myMemCheck®. Sometimes what may look like a memory issue at first could be a physical problem like a urinary tract infection or a reaction to a medication, or a mental health issue like anxiety or depression, noted Dr. Mansbach. Also, because of the difficulty finding and scheduling an appointment with a neurologist or neuropsychologist who specializes in memory loss, patients should always start with their primary care physician.

3. Test, Level 2 - If a self-screener indicates concern, or if you or a loved one would like to start with more advanced testing, there are also in-person and virtual professional tests available. 

One of the most dependable virtual tests uses the BCAT® (Brief Cognitive Assessment Tool) to provide a comprehensive assessment of brain health in less than 30 minutes. The BCAT is not a screening tool, it is actually a cognitive test—making it much more detailed and accurate. 

A live specialist guides patients through the test. Video visits are readily available and easy to schedule—making them preferable to an in-person visit for many people. Following the assessment, patients receive a detailed report that they can share with other medical professionals and use to make brain-healthy lifestyle choices. 

Results from the BCAT® can tell people with approximately 95 percent probability if they have normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment or dementia. The test can also predict whether individuals will be able to live independently, or if they will need assistance with certain tasks. This information is vital for both patients and families as they work to plan ahead for the future. Go to enrichvisits.com to learn more or schedule. 

If a patient wants a thorough, in-person evaluation, they can visit a geriatric psychiatrist or  neuropsychologist. While it can be difficult to locate specialists and get on their schedule, there are options available. In the Mid-Atlantic region, individuals can visit local offices like CounterPoint Health Services that can offer in-person evaluations (counterpointhealthservices.com). 

4. Prevent – Prevention is ALWAYS the best medicine, but how do you prevent cognitive decline? The answer is simple, but the implementation is hard. 

“I always tell people to move their bodies, work their minds and to be social,” said Dr. Mansbach. “It’s pretty straightforward.” He also emphasized that there are proven tools to enhance memory and cognition, especially working memory exercises. Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping blood pressure in check are also essential to a healthy brain as you age. 

There are lots of free tools available online to help individuals exercise their brains. The ENRICH® brain health website also hosts a free online calculator that helps individuals evaluate if they are taking the right steps now to avoid dementia later. It is available at enrichvisits.com.

5. Treat – The first step in any treatment plan should be assessment. Whether it is a free, online self-assessment, a virtual professional assessment, or an in-person specialist visit, if you or a loved one is experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of dementia or cognitive impairment, you should consider an assessment. The only way to treat any type of cognitive impairment is under the care and supervision of a medical professional. 

Armed with your assessment, seek out help first from your primary care physician and then from a specialist as needed. There are promising treatment protocols available to help treat and slow the progression of cognitive decline and dementia. Don’t wait for years. Act now to protect the vital organ that is you—your brain. 

For more information and to access the tools discussed, please visit enrichvisits.com. 


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