Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination Promises to Detect Alzheimer’s

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerOctober 30, 2017

The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) is an online test that promises to detect the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Developed by researchers at Ohio State University, the test is designed to be done at home and then taken to a physician for a more formal evaluation.

The most recent study looked at SAGE and its effectiveness in a community setting, and determined that it is an efficient and reliable way to detect Alzheimer’s issues in a large group setting.

The SAGE Exam

SAGE was formulated to detect the earliest signs of cognitive impairment and was developed by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

The test can be done at home in 15 minutes with paper and pen. While the exam will not give a diagnosis, people who take the test can take the results to their doctors who can then score the exam and see if further evaluation is needed.

Researcher and test developer Douglas Scharre, MD, of Ohio State University Medical Center, states that the test can evaluate all aspects of cognition, including language, memory and problem solving.

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, saying:

“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.”

How to Use SAGE to Detect Alzheimer’s

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 SAGE was 17.8%
  • 71.6% of the people that took the test had normal cognition
  • 10.4% had mild cognitive impairment
  • 18% had dementia

The study concluded that the exam is an “internally consistent test that is very well balanced, with cognition, language, memory and visuospatial domains.” Though, researchers admit there are some limitations to using 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.

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.

Studies Find SAGE Reliable

Researchers from Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University recently reported that over 1,000 people took the test over a five year period.

In that time, 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.

Do you think SAGE is a valuable tool in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s? We’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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