New Self-Administered Test Might Detect Early Signs of Dementia, Study Suggests



A new-at home cognitive test may be able to detect subtle signs of dementia six months earlier than current screening methods, a new study finds.

Persons concerned with their cognitive functioning can now take the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE), a printable four-page exam that can be completed in 10 to 15 minutes. According to a new study published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, the SAGE can be a useful tool to develop a baseline of cognitive issues and can assist with tracking progression.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Douglas Scharre, told Today that his team “found the SAGE to be an effective screening tool to identify people who would eventually develop dementia, probably six months earlier than the most used screening tool.

“Patients can take it on their own while they are sitting in the doctor’s waiting room,” said Dr. Scharre, director of the division of cognitive neurology at Ohio State University. “Since you don’t need someone to administer the test, such as a doctor or nurse, it’s easy to have patients do it every six months.”

Researchers compared the SAGE to the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), a common clinician-administered test that measures cognitive functioning. The SAGE accurately identified persons with mild cognitive impairment who eventually progressed to a dementia diagnosis at least six months earlier than the MMSE.

“Any time you or your family member notices a change in your brain function or personality you should take this test,” Scharre said in a press release. “If that person takes the test every six months and their score drops two or three points over a year and a half, that is a significant difference, and their doctor can use that information to get a jump on identifying the causes of the cognitive loss and to make treatment decisions.”

There are four versions of the test that individuals can take every six months. While the SAGE cannot deliver a definitive diagnosis for a specific dementia type, it can help to monitor memory and thinking abilities over time.

 

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