An Optician for an Eye Checkup, a Dentist for a Mouth Checkup . . . and an App for a Brain Checkup?
If you think about the times when you receive healthcare, you can probably divide your experiences into two categories. On the one hand, there is the treatment you receive when something has gone wrong. On the other, there are the regular checkups you receive to make sure that you are not developing any conditions that need treating.
If you’re healthy, it’s likely that you have had far more of the second of these types of healthcare experience. Yet, have you noticed that those checkups tend to focus on quite a small proportion of your body? You might have your eyes, teeth, ears, and blood pressure checked once a year or so, but what about all the other parts of your body that don’t receive a checkup?
The narrow approach that we take to checkups has long been a concern for health experts, and especially for those who focus on brain health and aging. Just ask Dr. Trecia Brown, director of operations at Synaptitude Brain Health.
“People don’t tend to think about their brain and how it actually works until something happens,” she notes. “We’re aware of the need to get our eyes checked, our teeth checked, get our physicals done, but nobody really thinks about their brain because they can’t see it. They can’t touch it. As long as it’s functioning normally, they’re not concerned about their brain.”
As Dr. Brown points out, often we only start thinking about the health of our brains once it is too late to take preventative action.
“Unfortunately,” she says, “I feel that that conversation tends to happen primarily with older adults and not necessarily with those who can also benefit from making impactful change earlier on in their lives.”
It’s clear that, as a society, we are generally unaware of the importance of keeping an eye on our brain health. The big consequence of that lack of awareness is that we are doing little to prevent cognitive decline, right at a time when more people than ever are susceptible to it and its consequences.
For Dr. Max Cynader, CEO of Synaptitude Brain Health, the link between cognitive decline and other health problems is clear, and it should incentivize people to start looking after their brains before it’s too late.
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“For instance, cognitive decline is a big risk factor for falls,” he says. “If you’ve got even mild dementia, the probability that you’ll fall as a senior and break your hip triples. And once you break your hip as a senior, it’s usually a slow couple of years and then you die, or a bad couple of years and then you die. That’s a very common prognosis.
“In general, having poor brain health affects your ability to socialize, affects your ability to move, leads to lots of other problems, leads to accidents. It’s a really bad thing. We’ve all seen people who are still physically intact and whose cognition has severely declined, and let’s face it, it’s just not a pretty picture.
“But it doesn’t have to be that way. I think that’s the real message here. It does not have to be that way.”
Dr. Cynader has a clear view of how we can address this problem: “We can strengthen our brain health, and, in so doing, cut our risks for future cognitive decline, by doing things that are really not impossibly hard. People require some information. They require some help and support, which our program offers.”
Building on the latest research and data from its work with participants in British Columbia, Synaptitude Brain Health has created an app that is designed to give people easy access to tools that will help them to develop healthy brain habits and therefore prevent cognitive decline before it begins to take hold.
“We are our customer’s window into an advancing tide of research,” Dr. Cynader says. “Everything we do is based on science. As the evidence comes in, we funnel it out into our product. We tell you where you stand according to evidence-based metrics. We give you advice on how you might improve your scores along these metrics.
“The evidence is that if you do these things, it’s going to impact your brain health in a very positive way, cut down your risk of dementia, and also make you happier, better able to focus, and to remember. So how much is that worth? You go every year to see your eye doctor to have your eyes checked, you go every year to have your teeth checked. How could you not be going to have your brain checked out every year? How could you not be looking after your brain in the same way? It’s truly a no brainer to do that.”
Ready to take the first step towards looking after your own brain by giving it a checkup? Then check out Synaptitude.