Washington: US researchers have developed the first at-home test that can help doctors spot early signs of Alzheimer’s disease – and it takes less than 15 minutes to complete.
The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE test) is a reliable tool for evaluating cognitive abilities, said researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Researchers visited 45 community events where they asked people to take a simple, self-administered test to screen for early cognitive loss or dementia.
Of the 1,047 people who took the simple pen-and paper test, 28 per cent were identified with cognitive impairment, said Dr Douglas Scharre, who developed the test with his team at Ohio State.
The participants, ages 50 or older, were tested on orientation (month + date + year); language (verbal fluency + picture naming); reasoning/computation (abstraction + calculation); visuospatial (three-dimensional construction + clock drawing); executive (problem solving) and memory abilities.
The test can also be taken at home by patients, who can then share the results with their physicians to help spot early symptoms of cognitive issues such as early dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, said Scharre, who is director of the Division of Cognitive Neurology and heads the Memory Disorders Research Center at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.
Often physicians may not recognise subtle cognitive deficits during routine office visits, he said.
“What we found was that this SAGE self-administered test correlated very well with detailed cognitive testing,” Scharre said.
“If we catch this cognitive change really early, then we can start potential treatments much earlier than without having this test,” he said.
While the test does not diagnose problems like Alzheimer’s, it does allow doctors to get a baseline of cognitive function in their patients, so they can follow them for these problems over time, researchers said.
“We can give them the test periodically and, the moment we notice any changes in their cognitive abilities, we can intervene much more rapidly,” Scharre said.
The details of the study are published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.