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About 4 million American households include at least one adult suffering from increasing memory loss or confusion, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet many people are unaware of how to protect or improve their memory. Neurologist Dr. Majid Fotuhi of the NeurExpand Brain Center, author of "Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance," explains how to use his memory test:
The Fotuhi Brain Fitness Calculator is based on my 25 years of research, clinical and teaching experience at Harvard and Johns Hopkins. I have published several articles about factors that shrink or expand the brain. In my book, I have put together an odometer-type scale that indicates the strength of each of risk factors and each protective factor. I call them "brain meters."
The questionnaire is my attempt to put all this information in a simple format so people can get a general idea of how they can improve their brain health.
- This questionnaire is intended as a general screening tool for brain health issues and should not be used for diagnosing or treating any specific medical conditions.
- A person with a perfect score may still have significant undiagnosed heart disease (without any symptoms) that could result in stroke and dementia in the future.
- A person with a poor score needs to double-check his or her answers with a health care professional. For example, a person with depression may post unreasonably low scores that could be unduly alarming.
- This questionnaire is not intended to be fully comprehensive and should not be used as a medical diagnosis.
To calculate the test, add the selected numbers from each question. Scoring is explained at the end.
1. High stress, daily
2. Occasional stress, not daily
3. Rare stress, only once in a while (with deadlines, etc.)
1. Rarely laugh, usually grumpy
2. Occasional laughter
3. Cheerful and smiling most of the time
1. Usually 140/90 or higher
2. Usually between 120/80 and 140/90
3. Usually 120/80 or lower
1. Smoke daily
2. Occasional smoke (or quit smoking)
3. Never smoke
Alzheimer’s in the family
1. More than 2 members of the family have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease
2. Only one member of the family has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease
3. Nobody in the family has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease
1. Usually less than 6 hours a night
2. Usually 6 to 7 hours a night
3. Usually about 7 to 8 hours a night
Snoring 1. Snore all night, feel sleepy during the day
2. Occasional snoring, mild sleepiness during the day
3. Quite and restful sleep
1. Couch potato
2. Usually active, but no formal exercise
3. Keep an active lifestyle and exercise regularly
1. No seat belts, no helmets during biking or contact sports
2. Occasional use of seat belts and helmets
3. Conscious about safety, regular use of seat belts and helmets
1. Compared to people my age, I am out of shape
2. Compared to people my age, I am in average shape
3. Compared to people my age, I am in great shape
1. Usually isolated and alone
2. Occasional social activities, 1-2 months
3. Regular social activities every week
1. Three or more glasses of alcohol per day
2. No alcohol at all
3. 1-2 glasses of alcohol per day
1. Eat large portions, enjoy second servings
2. Eat occasional large portions, no second servings
3. Small and reasonable portions, no second servings
1. Junk food (such as French fries, doughnuts or salty foods)
2. Occasional junk food, usually heart-healthy diet
3. Heart-healthy diet, zero junk food
DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid)
1. No DHA or nutritional supplements
2. Occasional DHA supplements
3. Daily use of DHA supplements
1. Sad, irritable and/or depressed most of the time
2. Occasional irritability, but generally pleasant
3. Upbeat, cheerful, and agreeable most of the time
1. Never practice any form of meditation or relaxation
2. Occasional meditation or relaxation
3. Daily mediation and/or relaxation
1. Usually pessimist, negative, and hopeless
2. Occasional negative thoughts, usually positive attitude
3. Always optimist and positive attitude
1. No effort in memorizing names, facts, or stats
2. Occasional efforts in memorizing names, facts, or stats
3. Always eager to memorize names, facts, or stats
Sense of curiosity
1. No interest in learning new things or exploring the world
2. Occasional interest in learning new things and exploring the world
3. Usually eager and enthusiastic to learn new things and explore the world
Green: 50-60: Good news: You have a brain-healthy lifestyle. There’s always room for improvement, though, so please start working on areas where your score was not perfect.
Yellow: 31 to 49: Your lifestyle needs a checkup. You need to identify key weaknesses and devote a strong effort to strengthening them, while maintaining brain-healthy habits in other areas.
Red: 20 to 30: Your brain is need of some TLC. Your goal should be to improve your scores across the board. This may involve some major lifestyle changes. Think about which changes you can realistically make and which will have the biggest impact. You need to discuss areas in which you have a low score with your doctor or a health care professional.
This article was originally published Mar. 9, 2015 at 9:21 a.m. ET.