With Alzheimer’s expected to become a global epidemic by 2050, researchers are focusing efforts on Alzheimer’s prevention and finding new ways to diagnose Alzheimer’s earlier than ever. An earlier diagnosis can often slow the cognitive decline that comes with the neurodegenerative disease. Now, a new test called the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) may allow cognitive decline to be spotted in as little as 15 minutes and at home.
The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) is designed to be taken at home and in as little as 15 minutes. The 12 question test asks test-takers to answer simple questions such as the date of the test, to draw a clock, or to name items in a kitchen. Those that got six or more questions incorrect were encouraged to share the results with their doctor, who could take a better look into their cognitive function.
The research team at Ohio State University that developed SAGE asked over 1,000 participants to take the exam. 28% of those that took the test demonstrated symptoms of cognitive decline which matched more detailed tests. Researcher Dr. Douglas Scharre said, “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.” Patients often wait as long as four years to see a doctor after symptoms first occur. If this test can detect symptoms earlier and get people to a doctor faster, there is more hope for treatment.
Researchers want to be clear that this test cannot diagnose Alzheimer’s or dementia. What the test does do is give doctors a baseline of cognitive function so that it can be better tracked as the disease develops. It can also be a starting point for the diagnosis process.
Researchers encourage anyone who is worried about their memory function to see a doctor and to not attempt to self-diagnose using SAGE at home.
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