Thank you to Staying Sharp for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
How Well Is Your Brain?
Noggin. Head. Skull. Gray matter. Thinking cap. Whatever you call your brain, it’s got a big job to do every single day. Your brain controls all functions in your body, interprets information from the outside world, and makes you–you. When your brain is functioning properly, you remember where you put your car keys, what you walked into a room to get, and you can easily recall what you ate for breakfast.
As we get older, changes occur in both our bodies and brain. Let me tell you, I could write a novel documenting the changes I’ve witnessed in my own body in the last ten years but since today’s post is about the brain, let’s focus on those changes (no one wants to hear about my wrinkles anyway 😉 ).
How Does Our Brain Change As We Age?
- decreases in size
- reduced blood flow (due to narrowing of arteries)
- decreased communication between brain cells
- increase in free radical damage
- increased risk of plaques and
Getting older isn’t for sissies! Anyway, when the above-mentioned brain changes occur, there’s usually a corresponding change in brain function. This is evidenced in older people who have difficulty remembering names, recalling events from the past, learning new information, and maintaining attention. If you have a disease that affects the brain (like Multiple Sclerosis which I have), you are at an increased risk of developing brain function issues at an earlier age than most.
Since my 2008 Multiple Sclerosis (MS) diagnosis, the most prominent brain change I’ve noticed is my ability to process information. I don’t absorb new information as quickly as I used to and I don’t retain it as easily either. When I came across the Brain Health Assessment tool through AARP’s Staying Sharp Program, I decided to take the assessment and see just how accurate their tool is. I’ll admit that I wasn’t keen on seeing my results but knowledge is power, right?
For those of you that aren’t aware, before Multiple Sclerosis, I was a practicing mental health therapist. Administering neurological assessments was part of my practice so I can easily determine when an assessment tool is either worthwhile or worthless. As soon as I started the Brain Health Assessment, I could tell that it was developed by professionals. Many of the tasks I was given during the assessment were similar to tasks I gave to my own clients.
I learned through the website that the Staying Sharp platform is validated by findings recommended by the Global Council on Brain Health. This council is an independent collaborative of scientists, health professionals, scholars and policy experts from around the world who work in areas of brain health related to human cognition.
Before I share my results with you, let me say this:
Staying Sharp’s Brain Health Assessment tool is impressively accurate.
The Brain Health Assessment measures your strengths in two vital areas:
Cognitive, or how your brain works &
Lifestyle, how your everyday activities support your brain health.
You can see in the photo above that I scored in the Low Range for Cognitive brain health (when compared to people in my age range). Furthermore, and as expected, I scored below average in cognitive flexibility and recognition memory.
Cognitive Flexibility is your brain’s way of allowing you to be flexible in your thinking, and adapt quickly to new and changing information. Cognitive flexibility helps us adapt to new situations such as news, unexpected requests, or last minute change in plans.
Recognition memory helps you recall important factual information, build rich positive memories of experiences, and effectively recall names, faces and words without having to do ‘look ups’.
How well is my brain performing in this area? Not well. To help me make improvements, Staying Sharp provided me with over twenty cognition-related games so I can work on making improvements.
Regarding my brain health in the Lifestyle department, Staying Sharp provides scores in the five pillars of brain health:
Let’s just say that I need to work on two things:
Now that I know the areas of my brain that need improvement, I can work on gradually improving my brain health with the games, articles, and suggestions that Staying Sharp provides. I can’t control what Multiple Sclerosis or aging does to my brain but I can surely work hard at minimizing their effects.
If you’d like to try out the Staying Sharp program, you can enter for your chance to win a FREE month. Twenty (20) of you will win and entering is short and sweet.
To enter the giveaway, post the following comment on this post:
I want to take the Brain Health Assessment.
OFFICIAL GIVEAWAY TERMS/RULES:
Grand Prize Sweepstakes: Post the comment “I want to take the Brain Health Assessment.” Upon posting this comment, each entrant will become eligible to win. Only one (1) entry per individual.
- Selection of Grand Prize Sweepstakes Winners (“Sweepstakes Winners”): Prizes will be awarded to entrants on a first come, first served basis, while supplies last. Sponsor will notify Sweepstakes Winners via email within 72 hours of giveaway end date (February 28, 2017, 12:00 am EST) and must respond via email within 72 hours to claim Prize. All potential Winners are subject to verification by Sponsor, whose decisions are final and binding in all matters related to the promotion. If Sponsor is unable to reach a potential Winner using the information provided, if potential Winner fails to respond to claim his or her Prize during the allotted timeframe, or if Sponsor is unable to verify a potential Winner when contacted by an AARP representative, that entrant will be disqualified as the potential Sweepstakes Winner and Sponsor will select another entry form from among all eligible entries on a first come, first-served basis.
- Prizes: Each Sweepstakes Winner will receive a one-month free subscription to Staying Sharp. Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) of each Prize: $5.99. Total ARV of all prizes: $1,198. If the actual retail value of the Grand Prize differs from its stated ARV, the Sweepstakes Winner will not receive the difference in value. Limit: Only one (1) Grand Prize per individual.
- Odds of Winning: Odds of winning a Grand Prize depend upon the total number of all eligible entries received and when each entrant posts his or her comment on the Blog.
- Automatic Renewal: Upon acceptance of the Prize, each winner will also be required to sign a statement authorizing AARP to enroll him or her in a Staying Sharp membership. This statement will authorize AARP to charge the Winner’s credit card for the price of this membership (ARV: $35.99 per year). Upon termination of each Winner’s free subscription, winners will be automatically enrolled in a Staying Sharp membership unless this subscription is canceled by the Winner. This request for cancellation must be received within 30 days of the renewal date to be effective. There are no refunds for memberships following this cancellation deadline. Failure to consent to enrollment in this membership may result in disqualification of the potential Sweepstakes Winner and Sponsor shall select another entry form from among all eligible entries on a first come, first-served basis.
- Participant need not be an AARP member in order to enter and/or win the Grand Prize Sweepstakes. Being an AARP member will not increase your chance or odds of winning.