May 23, 2011 Leave a comment
One of the great fears of growing older is dementia – a disease which apparently affects one in six people aged over 70. To date, society’s attitude towards it, based on our inadequate scientific knowledge, has been that it is unaovidable either because it is genetically pre-determined or because it can neither be predicted nor avoided through taking positive preventative action.
Now a new “early-warning” test has been developed by the not for profit organization, Food for the Brain, to identify mild cognitive impairment which may be related to the early development of dementia. The test follows a recent major study by Oxford University which demonstrated that taking an inexpensive vitamin pill could cut the brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s disease by substantial amounts. Taking the test, which is free and available online, is recommended for anyone over 50 who may suspect that they are starting to suffer memory impairment which is greater than that related to ageing alone (those “senior moments” of which we are all so aware).
As would be expected with any new health-related development, there is some debate amongst the medical fraternity as to whether inaccurate results from the test may cause unneccesary alarm and subsequent pressure on GPs from those who may be worried that they are affected by dementia. On the other hand it is already known that, as with many diseases, far too many people bury their heads in the sand and ignore symptoms until it is too late to take the action which may help slow down its rate of progress.
No doubt the debate will continue as further evidence emerges. For now, if nothing else, this test acts a useful reminder that, as with every aspect of our health as we age, it is down to us as individuals to take responsibility for doing everything possible to avoid diseases that threaten our future quality of life.
The Cognitive Function Test is available at www.foodforthebrain.org