Some degree of forgetfulness is common with advancing age. However, if you find yourself unable to remember why you entered a room or names of people you’ve met before, you may have more severe memory problems.
You can test yourself for memory loss using online tests that can help you detect early signs of cognitive decline. Your doctor can then conduct a physical examination, blood tests, and imaging tests to confirm a diagnosis.
6 ways to test yourself for memory loss
|Test||Procedure||Link to online test|
|Modified Clinical Dementia Rating Test||This test is taken by the affected person’s caregiver or family member. It requires them to answer 6 questions about the person’s mental acuity. The score is then provided online.||
|Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination||This test is devised by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and meant to be downloaded, printed, and completed by the affected person. The scoring instructions are available online.||https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/-/media/files/wexnermedical/patient-care/healthcare-services/brain-spine-neuro/memory-disorders/sage/forms/sage-form-1-us.pdf|
This test requires the affected person to:
Another person or the caregiver can assess the answers.
|Clock Drawing Test||A person suspected of possible dementia is asked to draw a round clock with an hour hand and minute hand depicting a specific time.|
|Mini-Mental State Exam (at-home version)||
This test evaluates the following:
The online questionnaire can be printed, completed, then scored according to the instructions.
|Peanut Butter Test||This test requires the person to open a jar of peanut butter that is held about 30 cm away. Then, they plug one nostril and bring the jar closer in 1 cm increments until it can be smelled. The test is repeated with the opposite nostril plugged. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease will not be able to smell with their left nostril, but can with their right nostril. This test is the least precise of the ones listed above.|
How is memory loss evaluated?
For an accurate diagnosis of memory impairment, you will need to visit your doctor.
- Neurological exam: Your doctor will conduct a thorough neurological evaluation that includes assessments of memory, posture, muscle tone, coordination, and balance. They may administer more questionnaires that can be assessed only by professionals.
- Blood tests: Blood tests, such as thyroid function, vitamin B, and folic acid tests, may be ordered to see if your poor memory is a result of nutrient deficiencies or hormonal imbalances. A blood test for Plasma Aβ has recently received certification in the United States. by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for dementia assessment.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, and positron emission tomography scans, may be ordered to check for trauma (new or old), tumors, and blood supply to the brain.
- Genetic testing: Genetic testing is generally recommended for people who have a family history of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. However, it involves an extensive pretest session with a genetic counselor to discuss the risks and benefits of genetic testing.
What foods can fight memory loss?
Although there is no definite way to prevent memory loss, your diet plays a huge role in maintaining brain health and lowering your risk of cognitive decline.
- Green, leafy vegetables: Broccoli, kale, spinach, and collards are rich in vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene, which help repair damage to brain cells caused by oxidative stress.
- Fatty fish: Salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, and pollack are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower levels of beta-amyloid in the blood. Beta-amyloid protein forms damaging clumps in the brain cells of people with Alzheimer's disease.
- Nuts and seeds: Flaxseeds, avocados, pine seeds, almonds, and walnuts are plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to promote brain cell repair.
- Berries: Flavonoids present in blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries protect brain cells from oxidative damage.
- Tea and coffee: According to newer studies, caffeine in tea and coffee can help solidify new memories in the brain.
- Spices: Sage, turmeric, and saffron have been known to reduce brain cell death and slow down the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain cells. These findings are, however, largely anecdotal.
- Herbs: Certain herbs used in traditional medicine have potentially positive effects on brain cells and memory. These include Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa), Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Ginkgo biloba, etc. Though they can be purchased online, these herbs are not regulated by the FDAl therefore, it is best to take them only after consulting your doctor.
DementiaCareCentral.com. Online, At-Home & Clinical Tests for Alzheimer’s, Dementia & Aging-Related Mental Decline. https://www.dementiacarecentral.com/alzheimers-online-test/
Harvard Health Publishing. Foods linked to better brainpower. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower
Gregory J, Vengalasetti YV, Bredesen DE, Rao RV. Neuroprotective Herbs for the Management of Alzheimer's Disease. Biomolecules. 2021;11(4):543. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8068256/
Mayo Clinic. Alzheimer's disease. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350453
Mayo Clinic. Memory loss: When to seek help. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/memory-loss/art-20046326
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phosphatidylserinePhosphatidylserine is a fatty substance (phospholipid) that is part of the membranes of the brain's nerve cells (neurons). Taken as a supplement, phosphatidylserine is used to prevent memory loss and improve cognitive function in elderly patients and to improve focus in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Common side effects of phosphatidylserine include sleeplessness (insomnia), gas (flatulence), and stomach upset. Consult with your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.
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