Online test may be valuable tool in detecting Alzheimer’s

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SAGE developed to foster early diagnosis

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 — Deron Hamel

A new online test developed by Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center may help flag early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, according to researchers.

The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) has been developed to evaluate people’s thinking processes and detect warning signs compatible with symptoms of cognitive impairment.

While the test cannot diagnose Alzheimer’s disease — further testing by a specialist is necessary to determine if a person has cognitive impairment — the test’s results can be shared with doctors to assist with diagnosis, researchers say.

“It is normal to experience some memory loss and to take longer to recall events as you age,” the SAGE website says. “But if the changes you are experiencing are worrying you or others around you, SAGE can be a helpful tool to assess if further evaluation is necessary.”

If the test indicates signs of Alzheimer’s disease, a primary-care physician can interpret results and recommend next steps. If the test does not indicate symptoms, the physician can keep the results on file and compare them to future tests to determine changes.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease early is important, so people who have it or related dementia can access needed supports earlier and even avoid potential crisis situations.

“As devastating as the news can be, early diagnosis brings relief to families, gives them control over their situation and adds more years of living active and fulfilling lives,” says Mimi Lowi-Young, the Alzheimer Society’s CEO, in a statement.

The Alzheimer Society estimates 747,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. This includes many people living in long-term care homes.

The written SAGE test evaluates several areas of cognition and takes about 15 minutes to complete. It includes questions involving short-term memory, picture recognition, spatial reasoning and drawing exercises.

Click here for more information on SAGE, including a link to download the test.

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