Apr 8, 2010

Simple Pen-and-Paper Alzheimer's Memory Test is Important News (SAGE)

The latest weapon in the war against Alzheimer’s disease is not a fancy new brain scanner or a computer device. Instead, it’s a simple written exam that could have a dramatic impact on a major problem -- the early detection of Alzheimer's disease. The handwritten self-assessment test takes about 15 minutes to complete. This is a new and reliable tool for testing memory.....
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

More than 100 million Americans have been touched by Alzheimer's disease. Thirty five million are worried about Alzheimer's. This new test can assess memory. The test should be taken by everyone 65 years and older. Why worry? Take the test.

The researchers that developed Self-Administered Geocognitive Examination (SAGE) -- a simple pen and paper test that can detect mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's dementia are to be congratulated. They should be congratulated not only for their research; but also, for putting the test into the public domain. The test is free.

As the editor of this blog, I get asked via email over and over, what should I do if I am worried about Alzheimer's disease? These emails come from worried family members, spouses, partners, and individual that are worried that they might be in an early stage of memory lost. It is not unusual now for someone to call me and ask me to speak on the telephone with someone that is worried.

This test puts an important arrow in my quiver of response. I can now direct anyone that asks to these two links:

Test Your Memory for Alzheimer's Dementia in 15 Minutes (SAGE)

Why Test Your Memory Test for Alzheimer's Dementia is Important -- And How You Can Be a Difference Maker

The first article includes a brief description of the research and importantance of the test. It also includes a direct link to the test and the scoring system. The test is easy to use and easy to score.

The second article discusses the magnitude of Alzheimer's disease, some sobering statistics, and how you can make an important difference in someone's life. The article tells you what to do if you are worried about Alzheimer's disease.

It is impossible to describe the importance of early detection of Alzheimer's disease. Early detection makes an almost impossible to describe difference in treatment and quality of life.

Consider this email I received from a reader:
The doctors' failure to prescribe Alzheimer's medications at earliest diagnosis is truly tragic!. Especially in view of the widely reported NIH / UMass study that showed that the combination of ChEI's and Namenda does clearly slow the progression of the disease and provide a permanent improvement.

The doctor in charge of the study reported, optimistically, that this will change the way we treat Alzheimer's.

Apparently, and tragically unfortunately, it hasn't changed the way practitioners treat early Alzheimer's.

I'm a lucky one, in that my physician put me on both drugs upon diagnosis of "early Alzheimer's" nearly five years ago, and I'm still functioning, driving, making music, and generally enjoying life. I'm still in "mild cognitive impairment" six years after losing my ability to work due to the disease.
Dr. Douglas Scharre, a neurologist at the Ohio State University Medical Center, developed the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) to help identify individuals with mild thinking and memory impairments at an early stage. The research shows four out of five people (80 percent) with mild thinking and memory (cognitive) issues will be detected by this test, and 95% of people who are normal thinking will have normal SAGE scores.

Here is what Lou Vevola has to say about SAGE
Hi Bob, I took the test. I felt a little foolish Because I couldn't solve a few easy problems given the time I needed for processing. Even my 2 masters degrees were useless.

I waked away "knowing ...I indeed had A.D. ... AND... at that instant I understood what I once could do, I could do no longer. Bravo to the folks.

"Knowing..."in just several minutes when you leave... that you indeed have Alzheimer's disease... Bravo.

Editor Note: also see,

Test Your Self for Alzheimer's Dementia (5 Best Self Assessment Tests)

Aricept and Namenda from Day One -- This is my Belief

While testing for predisposition to Alzheimer's is becoming very popular, there is no hard science that these test are accurate.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room