The Self-Administered Gerocognitive
Examination (SAGE test), which takes less than 15 minutes to complete, is a
reliable tool for evaluating cognitive abilities.
Findings by researchers at
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre confirming the feasibility and
efficiency of the tool for community screening large numbers of people are
published in the January issue of The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical
Memory disorders 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 1047 people who
took the simple pen-and-paper test, 28% were identified with cognitive
impairment, said Dr Douglas Scharre, who developed the test with his team at
SAGE test can be taken at home
The SAGE 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 Centre at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Centre.
Often physicians may not recognize 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
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.
"We can give them the test periodically and, the moment we notice any
changes in their cognitive abilities, we can intervene much more rapidly,"
The SAGE test could also provide health
care providers and caregivers an earlier indication of life-changing events
that could lie ahead. Earlier research by Scharre found that four out of five
people (80 percent) with mild thinking and memory (cognitive) issues will be
detected by this test, and 95 percent of people without issues will have normal
Read: Signs and symptoms of memory loss
A wide variety of locations
In this study, researchers found that SAGE's
self-administered feature, pen-and-paper format, and four equivalent
interchangeable forms allows it to be given in almost any setting, doesn't
require any staff time to administer or to set up a computer, and makes it
practical to rapidly screen large numbers of individuals in the community at
the same time.
Study participants were ages 50 or older
who had been recruited from a wide variety of community locations and events,
including senior centres, health fairs, educational talks to lay public, independent
and assisted-living facilities, and free memory screens through newspaper
advertisement. The study excluded individuals who indicated that they had taken
Participants are 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.
Using the test
Participants were provided their score and
written information about SAGE, and were advised to show it to their physician
for interpretation and potential further screening or evaluation based on their
health history. All were told that this test represented their baseline to be
compared to future re-screening by their physician. Missing six or more points
on the 22-point SAGE test usually warrants additional follow-up by the
Scharre, who specialises in treating
Alzheimer's disease, said treatments for Alzheimer's and dementia are more
effective when started in the earliest stage of the disease. Unfortunately,
patients with Alzheimer's disease often wait three to four years after their
symptoms first appear to seek treatment.
Some 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's
disease, and those numbers are expected to almost triple by 2050. An additional
3% to 22% of those over 60 years of age are thought to currently
meet criteria for Mild Cognitive Impairment as well, Scharre said.
In South Africa there are approximately 750 000 people who have the disease.
"Hopefully, this test will help change
those situations," Scharre said. "We are finding better treatments,
and we know that patients do much better if they start the treatments sooner
Do you think you might have Alzheimer's or suspect someone else who might have?
Take the SAGE test and once you've completed it click work out your SAGE test score. For more information on the SAGE test, visit the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre. If you are concerned, immediately make an appointment with your health care provider.
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