Find Your Place: The Cognition Screen

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Check your thinking and recall skills with this fun test!

If someone told you three random words, could you remember them? What if someone asked you to draw a clock with a particular time? In this video, SilverSneakers fitness expert David Jack explains how this quick test, adapted from a common clinical screening called the Mini-Cog, can give you clues about your cognition.

You’ll need a place where you can concentrate, a pen or pencil, and a blank sheet of regular paper. Try the test now, then see what your results mean below. If you have dementia or a condition that affects cognition, skip the test, but check out the tips below.

If You Scored 3 to 5 Points

That’s a sign your cognition, or ability to think, is healthy. Want more good news? If you exercise to keep your body fit, you’re keeping your brain fit too. Regular exercise can lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to the latest fitness guidelines. It can also improve key aspects of cognition:

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Executive function, which includes the ability to organize, initiate tasks, and control emotions

The best fitness plan will include these three types of exercise, but you should feel free to mix up your workouts as you please. Want a fun challenge for your body and brain? Try something new, whether it’s a SilverSneakers class, a piece of equipment, or an exercise.

If You Scored 0 to 2 Points

That’s a sign your cognition may be at risk. That’s also a sign to talk to your doctor. There are many different potential causes of cognitive symptoms, and your doctor can determine if there’s an issue, what it is, and the best next steps. To make a conversation easier, let your doctor know any:

  • Conditions you have, including heart disease and diabetes
  • Medications you take, including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements
  • Symptoms you’ve noticed, including any of these early warning signs of dementia

Check out more tips to make your next doctor visit easier.

If You Have Dementia or a Condition That Affects Cognition

Worried that you shouldn’t exercise? It turns out, staying active can improve cognition in people with dementia or Parkinson’s disease, or after a stroke. The key is working with your doctor to find the right plan for you.

Start by talking to your doctor about your current health and any medications you take. Ask these three questions:

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  • What types of exercise are appropriate for me?
  • How often and how much should I do them?
  • Are there precautions or steps I should take?

Once you have guidelines for safe exercise, consider working out with others, whether it’s a walk with a family member or a class with new friends. The company can boost your mood and motivation.

This screen is a version adapted from the validated Mini-Cog © for illustrative and educational purposes with the approval of the author. Copyright © by S. Borson. All rights reserved. For more information, please visit

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