Aging Options

LIMITED TIME OFFER: First Academy Lesson is Free

Your Risk of Dementia May Be Linked to Your BCS: “Brain Care Score”

Save as PDF

Do you know your risk of dementia? We’ve heard about tests that allegedly can tell us our risk of developing dementia, but many people are hesitant to take a test that might reveal a gloomy prognosis – while giving them few if any options that might change the outcome.

But now, according to this recent article from CNN, there’s a new diagnostic tool that researchers say can not only reveal an individual’s risk of dementia, but also provide some specific lifestyle changes to slow down the rate of cognitive decline dramatically. The key, according to the CNN article by reporter Kristen Rogers, is to know your BCS – your “Brain Care Score.” Let’s see what this news is all about.

Know Your Risk of Dementia – and Do Something About It

If there was a non-invasive way to assess your risk of developing dementia or having a stroke, would you seek it out? A newly-developed tool called the Brain Care Score, or BCS, can do just that, as well as advise you about how to lower your risk, according to a new study.

Rogers explains, “The 21-point Brain Care Score refers to how a person fares on 12 health-related factors concerning physical, lifestyle and social-emotional components of health, according to the study published December 1 in the journal Frontiers in Neurology.”

The study authors report that participants with a higher score are at a lower risk of brain-related health risks, like dementia or stroke, as they age. 

“Patients and practitioners can start focusing more on improving their BCS today, and the good news is improving on these elements will also provide overall health benefits,” says Dr. Jonathan Rosand, the study’s senior author and cofounder of the McCance Center for Brain Health at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Lowering Risk of Dementia with a Range of Lifestyle Changes

Rosand, also a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, continues, “The components of the BCS include recommendations found in the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential (8) for cardiovascular health, as well (as) many modifiable risk factors for common cancers. What’s good for the brain is good for the heart and the rest of the body.”

Rogers explains that these components of the BCS break down into three categories: physical (“blood pressure, cholesterol, hemoglobin A1cand body mass index”), lifestyle factors (“nutrition, alcohol consumption, aerobic activities, sleep and smoking”), and social-emotional (“relationships, stress management and meaning in life”). 

Risk of Dementia Represents a Global Crisis

For many of the authors of the study, “the global brain health crisis” is a strong motivation for their work. Rogers writes that “in the United States alone, 1 in 7 people have dementia, and every four minutes someone dies from a stroke, according to the study.”

In the case of dementia and stroke, prevention efforts can be hugely beneficial to reduce deaths. But the pre-existing Life’s Essential 8 from the American Heart Association was developed without the input of patients, and does not reflect their unique concerns as effectively as the study’s authors feel they could.

The authors posed: “In order to engage patients, we sought to develop a tool that responded to the question we received most frequently from our patients and their family members: ‘How can I take good care of my brain?’”

Risk of Dementia Determined in 400,000-Person Study

To validate their tool, researchers used the UK Biobank study, which “followed the health outcomes of more than half a million people between ages 40 and 69 in the United Kingdom for at least 10 years.”

Rosand and his colleagues investigated the connections between the BCS scores of nearly 400,000 participants at the start of the UK Biobank study—between 2006 and 2010—and whether they had dementia or stroke around 12 years later.

Rogers explains the results: “Among adults who were younger than 50 upon enrollment, every five-point positive difference in their score was associated with a 59 percent lower risk of developing dementia and a 48 percent lower risk of having a stroke later in life, the authors found. Those in their 50s had a 32 percent lower risk of dementia and a 52 percent lower chance of stroke. Participants older than 59 had the lowest estimates, with an 8 percent lower risk of dementia and a 33 percent lower risk of stroke.”

She adds that the less significant benefits for older adults “could be because in this age group, dementia tends to progress more slowly — meaning practitioners may not pick up on a patient having early dementia until it gets worse later,” according to the researchers.

40 Percent of Dementia Cases May be Preventable

Other experts in the field are weighing in favorably on the BCS and its results.

Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of research at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Florida (not involved in the study) notes, “It’s rare for me to say this, but everyone age 40 and above who has a family member affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia should talk to their doctor about this score. Most people are unaware that at least 40 percent of dementia cases may be preventable if that person does everything right. The Brain Care Score helps people at risk with a roadmap forward based on 12 modifiable factors before the onset of cognitive decline.”

Multi-Faceted Approach Cuts Risk of Dementia

For years, many studies have affirmed the most recent study’s findings about maintaining—and improving—brain health through this wider picture of overall wellness.

“Swapping processed foods for more natural choices has been associated with a 34 percent lower risk of dementia, while frequent exercise and daily visits with loved ones reduced risk by 35 percent and 15 percent, respectively, according to two studies published in 2022,” Rogers writes.

Isaacson adds that “while most of these factors can be evaluated by people at home, it’s also important for people at their next primary care doctor’s visit to ‘know their numbers’ in the areas of blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar control. Better control of these vascular risk factors has the power to slam the breaks [sic] on the road to cognitive decline (and) dementia, as well as stroke. When you combine this with better dietary choices, less alcohol, having a sense of purpose in life and staying socially engaged, the dividends add up greatly over time.”

Research on Risk of Dementia is Ongoing

The research continues, and the focus now is to determine whether someone can reduce their stroke or dementia risk by improving their BCS over time, since as it stands, the scores were measured only once in their lives.

“We have every reason to believe that improving your BCS over time will substantially reduce your risk of ever having a stroke or developing dementia in the future,” Rosand says. “But as scientists, we always want to see proof.”

And Isaacson adds that participation in such studies can be a great way to manage your brain health, especially for those who have limited access to health care. As the coinvestigator on a National Institutes of Health-funded study starting soon, Isaacson told Rogers in an email, “People can actually sign up now to be notified when [the study is] launched within the next month at — which walks people through a free risk assessment, memory tests, and personalized advice from the comfort of their own cell phone.”

Breaking News: Rajiv’s New Book is Here!

We have big news! The long-awaited book by Rajiv Nagaich, called Your Retirement: Dream or Disaster, has been released and is now available to the public.  As a friend of AgingOptions, we know you’ll want to get your copy and spread the word.

You’ve heard Rajiv say it repeatedly: 70 percent of retirement plans will fail. If you know someone whose retirement turned into a nightmare when they were forced into a nursing home, went broke paying for care, or became a burden to their families – and you want to make sure it doesn’t happen to you – then this book is must-read.

Through stories, examples, and personal insights, Rajiv takes us along on his journey of expanding awareness about a problem that few are willing to talk about, yet it’s one that results in millions of Americans sleepwalking their way into their worst nightmares about aging. Rajiv lays bare the shortcomings of traditional retirement planning advice, exposes the biases many professionals have about what is best for older adults, and much more.

Rajiv then offers a solution: LifePlanning, his groundbreaking approach to retirement planning. Rajiv explains the essential planning steps and, most importantly, how to develop the framework for these elements to work in concert toward your most deeply held retirement goals.

Your retirement can be the exciting and fulfilling life you’ve always wanted it to be. Start by reading and sharing Rajiv’s important new book. And remember, Age On, everyone!

(originally reported at

Need assistance planning for your successful retirement? Give us a call! 1.877.762.4464

Learn how 70% of retirement plan fails and find out how you can avoid this

Find out more about LifePlanning

Your Cart is empty!

It looks like you haven't added any items to your cart yet.

Browse Products
Powered by Caddy
Skip to content