A free online brain health assessment for Canadians worried about their memory reached a milestone in July.
Cogniciti Inc. reports that 20,000 people have taken the memory checkup after seeing news stories announcing the launch of the free test.
While not a diagnostic tool, the 20-minute assessment is like a temperature check for the mind that will help a person determine whether or not they need to discuss their memory concerns with a doctor. The aim is to reassure the vast majority of aging adults (the “worried well”) and nudge the small percentage (2-3 percent) who do have serious memory issues to seek help.
The tool was developed by a team of clinical neuropsychologists and cognitive scientists at Baycrest Health Sciences and its world-renowned Rotman Research Institute.
“A great many Canadians are finding it tough to decide when to bring their memory concerns to their doctors,” said Mike Meagher, president of Cogniciti Inc. “Our mission with the test is to get the right people in to see the doctor and reduce unnecessary visits by the worried well.”
Cogniciti released the following data highlights from its pool of 20,000 test takers:
- 93 percent were Canadian
- 98 percent scored in the normal, healthy range for their age/education;
- Just 2 percent had test results below normal for their age/education;
- 64 percent of test-takers were women
- 41 percent were in their 60s
- 64 percent had a college or university degree.
An interesting finding for the Cogniciti team concerned those adults who doctors often refer to as the “worried well” – men and women who report memory concerns but whose brain health is normal. Close to one-quarter of Cogniciti test takers stated on the pre-test health questionnaire that they had significant memory concerns, yet only two percent had cognitive score results below the normal range for their age and education.
This finding confirmed how widespread memory concerns are in Canada with older adults, said Meagher, and how difficult it is for most adults to determine on their own whether their forgetfulness is simply normal aging or a more serious issue.
The 20-minute test was designed for adults aged 50-79. The test comprises a series of game-like mental challenges that tap into memory and attention performance.
Test takers receive an immediate cognitive health score upon completion to see where they rank compared to other adults with same age and education. Those who score in the low range are encouraged to print their report and take it to their doctor to start the conversation about their memory concerns.
A great many Canadians are finding it tough to decide when to bring their memory concerns to their doctors.
“For those who score poorly on the test, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have dementia or Alzheimer’s. Getting checked by a doctor is the best way to rule out other health problems that could be causing your cognitive issues,” said Dr. Angela Troyer, program director of Neuropsychology and Cognitive Health at Baycrest, and a lead member of the project team that developed the online test.
“If it turns out that you do have a significant problem with your memory, then early diagnosis along with science-based education and interventions will help you maintain your cognitive health and independence for as long as possible, and enable you and your family to plan for the care and support you’ll need in future.”
Cogniciti Inc. is a brain health solutions company, founded in 2010 by Baycrest Health Sciences and MaRS Discovery District. Cogniciti brings science-based brain health solutions to people, businesses and governments around the world.