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Check My Brain? But Why?

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness month and brain health makes a significant contribution to the prevention conversation surrounding Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Many leading organizations and experts across the globe and in the United States recommend a healthy brain check-up, also known as a “memory screening.” Although healthy brain check-ups are available throughout the year during most adults annual Medicare visits, many organizations may offer them free of charge to start (or continue) the conversation with our healthcare providers about our personal brain care. 

What is a healthy brain check-up?
A healthy brain check-up or “memory screening” is a routine health screen for your brain that  assesses various  functions of the brain with short questions. The exam is confidential, non-invasive and commonly takes less than 10 minutes to complete with a trained health provider.  Individuals are encouraged to receive a baseline brain health screen for comparison and to receive regular follow-up screenings similar to other important health screenings (vision, hearing, annual lab work, etc.). After all, it is our one and only brain we are prioritizing!

Who should get a brain check-up?
Healthy brain check-ups are available to adults and commonly recommended for adults over the age of 65. However, not every individual may receive a brain check-up and/or memory screening as part of their annual Medicare Wellness visit for a variety of reasons. If you are interested learning more for your personal brain care, it is never too early nor too late to start a conversation with your healthcare provider. 

Where can I get a brain check-up?
There are a variety of resources to complete a free, confidential brain check-up. Healthy brain check-ups and/or memory screenings can be completed in a variety of ways (they have been tested for reliability and validity for their administration) in-person, online with a trained provider, computerized, or phone based. Check out the resources below if you are interested in learning more.

Cleveland Clinic Brain Check-Up is an online assessment that tests your memory and lifestyle factors that may reduce the risk of brain disorders. Sign-up with a simple email and get started to learn more about your healthy brain today! (This is one of the most popular resources that people tend to use and revisit from my experiences to date!)

Cogniciti’s Online Brain Health Assessment consists of questions and simple tasks to test your brain function and memory. This is available for adults aged 20-94 and takes approximately 20-25 minutes to complete with a stable internet/electronic device.

My Brain Guide by UsAgainstAlzhiemers offers phone administration available in English and Spanish. Computerized administration also available.

Memory Quiz by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation. A quick quiz to determine how your brain is functioning.

Staying Sharp by AARP offers a baseline Brain Health Assessment which includes learning your personal brain health score, the ability to track your brain as you age, and healthy brain information. 

It is important to note that the intent of a healthy brain check-up is for health screening and prevention purposes. Brain check-ups and memory screenings are NOT diagnostic and are one short, simple tool to start or continue a brain care conversation with a trained provider. Memory concerns can occur for a variety of reasons and may warrant follow-up with a medical provider for additional care. (Examples of some common memory concerns might include medication side effects, medication changes, urinary tract infections, malnutrition, dehydration, etc.)

Global Insights
There is a global call-out for access to brain health tests to help support and maintain our personal brain care. Luckily, the United States has some provisions in place to offer access to brain check-up to aging adults. At this time, increasing age is the greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. 

What’s next?
We all have the ability to take charge of our personal brain care today and in the future. Brain health is for everyone and a healthy brain check-up and/or memory screening is a first-step or re-visit to broadly monitor our thinking skills. As with all health screenings, there are a variety of benefits that can be offered but I honor that our memory encompasses a sensitive topic for many. Being proactive about our brain health like heart health or hearing health offers many benefits. 

Findings from the Global Brain Health Survey on citizens’ perceptions on brain health interventions found that individuals have great trust in brain health specialists as the top source of information related to brain health. This blog is one resource for you and your personal brain health journey. Take good care. 

In brain health & wellness,

P.S.- My Virtual Brain Health Center offers healthy brain check-ups throughout the year to anyone with an interest. Feel free to reach out for additional information or to request an appointment.

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