New test identifies early cognitive decline

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New research suggests that early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease could now be detected early with the help of a 15-minute home-based test. Potential treatments could be started much earlier with beneficial effects lasting longer.

Pen and paper test

The new test, called the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) consists of four forms and takes about 15 minutes to complete. It assesses the following areas:
- Orientation (the month, date and year)
- Language (verbal fluency and picture naming)
- Reasoning/computation (abstract and calculation)
- Visuospatial (3D construction and clock drawing)
- Executive and memory abilities (problem solving)
The test has a maximum of 22 points and scoring a 16 or fewer would call for a follow-up appointment with a clinician. Research was led by Dr. Douglas Scharre of the Division of Cognitive Neurology at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

SAGE results correlate to detailed cognitive testing

Researchers visited 45 community events and asked individuals over age 50 to complete the test. They found that 28% of participants scored 16 or less. Participants were given their scores and told how to follow up. The test can be carried out in almost any setting, at home or a community event, and prove useful for determining signs of cognitive impairment. There’s no set up time and can be used to screen a large number of people. “What we found was that this SAGE self-administered test correlated very well with detailed cognitive testing. If we catch this cognitive change really early, then we can start potential treatments much earlier than without having this test,” stated Dr. Scharre.

Does not diagnose Alzheimer’s disease

“We can give them the test periodically and, the moment we notice any changes in their cognitive abilities, we can intervene much more rapidly,” explained Dr. Scharre. The test is a good tool for doctors to determine patients’’ initial cognitive function and to monitor it over time. “We are finding better treatments, and we know that patients do much better if they start the treatments sooner than later.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences

 
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