A New Guide Tries To Simplify What May Work Best To Prevent Dementia

December 5, 2023

The roll call of things that can cause dementia or Alzheimer’s continues.

On top of the connection between dementia and acid reflux medications, researchers have pegged apathynegative thinkingcough meds like Benadryl and Vicks NyQuil, and most recently, antihistamines which are also sold as sleeping pills – though researchers have refrained from saying that sleeping pills actually cause dementia. 

A recent study claims that worse sleep quality was associated with a faster decline in people 65 years old and older.

The insomnia/sleep issue appears to have some credibility, though. A recent study claims that worse sleep quality was associated with a faster decline in people 65 years old and older.

The problem with insomnia, though, is that many would probably prefer to pop a pill than go through the rigors of doing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) , one of the most effective treatments available according to other researchers.

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Anything left to pin the tail on?

There’s not much left that we can pin the tail on when it comes to dementia/Alzheimer-related causes. If it keeps up, we could be facing the fear of M&Ms, broccoli, and the Kardashians.

The tide of cause and effect may be shifting, though, forcing seniors to look themselves in the mirror at how they live their lives. Consumer Affairs recently wrote about new research suggesting that if we use some common sense in our diet and social lives, we could keep dementia at bay.

That research got a boost recently when researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston came up with a simple way to test your risk for dementia – one solely based on how you live your life. And the best part? There are no medical tests required. No CAT scans, no pet scans, no bloodwork, just you, a pencil, and your honesty.

“The goal of this score, what’s driving us is, to answer the question we were getting,” said Dr. Jonathan Rosand, co-founder of the McCance Center for Brain Health at Mass. General. “What can I do to take good care of my brain, so I don’t develop the memory problems that my father did, or my mother did?”

Take the test

Taking the McCance test is pretty easy and takes less than two minutes. On this site, click on “Check your Brain Care Score” it’ll link you to the online form.

You’ll be asked about 15 questions — how many servings of fruit and vegetables per day, how many alcoholic beverages you have a week, your resting blood pressure, your Hemoglobin A1c score (which you can get from your MyChart or other online medical accounts), etc.

If you score 21, then bravo. If you didn’t, all’s not for naught. Once you take the test, the researchers will immediately send you a list of recommendations on how you can improve your brain care. 

Keep in mind that the McCance clinicians aren’t promising that you won’t get dementia or Alzheimer’s, but they do think that just a little tweaking can put you on the right path.

“Small adjustments, like finding some time to walk more in your day or making it a priority to call your best friend, can have a major improvement on your overall score and brain health over time,” the researchers said.

“Once you and your care provider discuss your score you will get a sense of areas that may benefit from small adjustments, and we can help you find the resources to address those opportunities. Over time we are confident that regular tracking of your brain care score will lead to optimal brain health throughout your life.”

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