New test to spot early signs of dementia

New test to spot early signs of dementia

A new online test is available to assess risk of dementia Photo: ITV NEWS
Leading dementia experts estimate that more than half the risk for dementia is caused by things we can change with only one in a hundred cases directly attributable to genes. Now a new online Cognitive Function Test is available. It takes 20 minutes to complete and can asses a person’s risk from the age of 50 and will also give personalised advice on steps to take to cut their risk.
The free online test run by the charity Food for the Brain, has been tried by 200,000 people. It's also been tested against standard memory tests used in GP surgeries and specialist memory clinics in a pilot study to identify those at risk by tracking subtle changes in memory as early as possible.
Through a simple set of questions about diet and lifestyle the Cognitive Function Test also assesses a person’s most likely risk factors and the kind of specific changes they need to make to reverse that risk.
Other risk factors include a low intake of vegetables and fruits Credit: ITV NEWS
The Cognitive Function Test not only tests your memory but also assesses a person’s risk on a traffic light system, with ‘red’ risk factors being the ones most critical to address to benefit that individual.
One in five cases of Alzheimer’s are attributed to low levels of B vitamins, especially vitamin B12 found in animal produce, which becomes harder to absorb as you age.
And one in five cases are attributed to low levels of omega-3 fats and fish consumption, according to research from the US National Institutes of Health.
Other risk factors include a low intake of vegetables and fruits, rich in polyphenols, a lack of exercise and a lack of social and intellectually stimulating activity.
A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, and having diabetes, increases risk.
Not only does the test give people positive prevention steps to reduce risk in the long-term but also there’s an annual check up so people can track how diet and lifestyle changes impact on their cognitive function.
– Professor David Smith, University of Oxford
By encouraging people to take positive prevention steps, and tracking their memory function over time, we hope to be able to map the extent to which specific diet and lifestyle improvements stop or delay cognitive decline in hundreds of thousands of people. We want to encourage everyone over 50 to start taking positive prevention steps now, from age 50, rather than wait until it is too late.
– Patrick Holford, Food for the Brain
The Cognitive Function Test can be done on any computer or laptop, but not on a mobile or smart phone. It is a screening test, not a diagnostic test. If you have serious concerns about your memory see you're advised to see your GP. 


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