The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) is an online test that promises to detect the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Developed by researchers at Ohio State University, the test is designed to be done at home and then taken to a physician for formal evaluation.
The most recent study looked at SAGE and its effectiveness in a community setting, and determined that it is a reliable and efficient way to detect early cognition issues in a large group setting. Learn more.
What is SAGE?
SAGE stands for the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam, and was formulated to detect the earliest signs of cognitive impairment. It was developed by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
The test uses only pen and paper, and can be done at home within 15 minutes. While the exam will not give a diagnosis, people who take the test can take the results to their doctors who can score the exam and see if further evaluation is needed.
According to researcher and test developer Douglas Scharre, MD, of Ohio State University Medical Center, the test can evaluate all aspects of cognition, including problem solving, memory and language. Studies confirming the validity of the test have found that the test can identify 80% of people with mild cognition and memory issues. 95% of people who do not have cognition issues will have normal scores.
Dr. Scharre hopes the test will help people to see their doctor for cognition issues earlier. He said:
“People don’t come in early enough for a diagnosis, or families generally resist making the appointment because they don’t want confirmation of their worst fears. Whatever the reason, it’s unfortunate because the drugs we’re using now work better the earlier they are started.”
Using SAGE to Detect Mental Decline
The latest study concerning SAGE evaluated its effectiveness as a cognitive screening assessment tool in community settings. Researchers evaluated over 1,000 participants over the age of 50 from 45 community events. The scores on the test range from 22 – indicating normal cognition – to 15 – signifying mild cognitive impairment – and a score below 14 may indicate the presence of dementia.
The study found that when the test was given to its participants from over 45 different events, the average score for the SAGE was 17.8%. 71.6% of the people that took the test had normal cognition, 10.4% had mild cognitive impairment and 18% had dementia.
Researchers admit there are some limitations to using the SAGE in a community setting. First, participants must be able to read, write and see to take the exam. Also, in a large community setting, participants may be less likely to follow up with their physician for a formal evaluation.
The study concluded that the exam is an “internally consistent test that is very well balanced, with language, cognition, visuospatial, executive, and memory domains.” It also concluded that SAGE is an effective way to administer cognitive testing in community settings. Researchers hope that by establishing the exam as a way to effectively test for cognitive impairment, people will be diagnosed earlier, seek treatment options earlier and ultimately slow the progression of the disease.
New Study Finds SAGE Reliable
Researchers from Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University where the test was developed asked 1,000 people to take the test over a 5 year period. The test detected early signs of cognitive issues in 30% of the participants. Dr. Douglas Scharre reaffirmed his confidence in the test saying,
“What we found was that this SAGE, self-administered test correlated very well with the very detailed cognitive testing.”
When the test is repeated over time doctors can monitor their patients and detect slight changes in cognitive ability. Scharre went on to say, “If we see this change, we can catch it really early, and we can start treatments much earlier than we did without a test.”
Because early detection is crucial to managing and treating Alzheimer’s, SAGE could be an essential tool in slowing the progression of the disease. Researcher note that the SAGE test can not actually diagnose Alzheimer’s but instead spots cognitive issues early which would lead to more conclusive tests.
Have you heard about the SAGE exam? Do you think it is a valuable tool in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
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