There are various symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia, but the most common and damaging one is memory loss.
Even in the early stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s, the patient can be completely confused about something as basic as their name and where they live. This state can be confusing and distressing for the patient as well as her family members and loved ones.
In order to help patients determine if they are at a risk of dementia; the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE TEST) was developed by Douglas Scharre, Director of the Division of Cognitive Neurology for Ohio State, and his colleagues.
SAGE is an approximately 15-minute, self-administered test that aims to identify the early onset of dementia and Alzhiemer’s. The researchers at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre have developed this test in an effort to evaluate early cognitive, memory as well as thinking difficulties. It is majorly targeted towards individuals above 65 years, but even younger people can take the test, if they think that their memory and cognitive abilities are lagging behind.
The test is completely simplified and all one needs to attempt it is a piece of paper and 15 minutes; Comprising 12 questions altogether, there are four forms of the test, and they are all interchangeable. Hence, you can take any one form you prefer. The test is designed intricately to examine different parts of the brain.
Pictures need to be identified to test language skills; calculations need to be performed to measure math skills, geometrical designs and memory tests are also involved. Once you have taken the test, it needs to be taken to your physician for further assessment. An online version of the test has also been introduced which can be taken here at braintest.com.
A little bit of memory loss is common with increasing age, however, if you feel that your mental health is worrying you, then the SAGE test can shed some light on the underlying issue. Sometimes, the reason behind cognitive and thinking lag is treatable. But that can only be assessed once you have taken the test and have your physician assess the results. The physician may want to do further tests to accurately diagnose if the impairments revealed in the SAGE test show any progressive condition.
Typically, dementia is identified via a series of tests and diagnostic evaluations. There is a mental functioning test, a physical test, neurological exam and brain scans. The SAGE test can be categorized as the mental functioning test. The mental functioning test is further divided into two parts: mini-cog and mini-mental exam.
Effectiveness of SAGE test in identifying dementia
The USP of the SAGE test is that it can be taken at home or anywhere in the world without any supervision. Moreover, despite being taken in the comfort of your home, the test results are pretty accurate.
Studies have revealed that the SAGE test accurately identifies 80% people with cognitive and memory impairments. 95% of those who have no issues scored normal on the test.
The SAGE test is no doubt beneficial in identifying any form of cognitive impairment. From henceforth, further detailed testing can be done by a physician to diagnose the cause of the impairments.
However, SAGE test helps only in identifying the possibility of early signs of dementia in four out of five patients. It is not 100% effective as it is not developed to diagnose just one condition. It is in fact developed to identify an overall cognitive impairment. For instance, it will reveal if an older adult brain is not working as it should be.
The SAGE is not a diagnostic test; it will not reveal the cause of the cognitive, memory and thinking impairments. However, it will relay a message to the physician hinting towards a problem and thus further exploration will be required for a more accurate diagnosis.
Scharre has also revealed that a low SAGE score is not necessarily an indicator of a cognitive illness or dementia. Every individual has different cognitive levels. Moreover, some individuals may have gone through a stroke or trauma. Your physician may deduce you as completely normal based on your previous health history.
Also, even if a result for an individual comes out normal, it is still not a 100% proof of the individual being mentally healthy. It is always best to show the result to your physician so that the test can be compared overtime with new ones.
Earlier onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia can be treated better as the drugs made to combat such chronic conditions work better if prescribed in the beginning. However, patients usually come in for an assessment when their condition has progressed over the span of 3 years. Hence, the SAGE test no doubt provides an early baseline of mental functioning so that progressive changes can be assessed over the years.
A very big advantage of the test is its accessibility and short time duration. This allows even physicians to quickly conduct the test on their patients in the office. Also, a large population survey can also be administered easily on a community.
Downside of the test
Although this test is gradually gaining popularity in accurately deducing the early onset of cognitive disabilities, there are a few downsides to it. Firstly, conducting the test in private and at home means the patient can cheat or accidentally glance at the clock. This will result in incorrect test scores. Moreover, Scharre believes that people may be uneasy about revealing their mental illness in front of others and will hence tend to hide the scores from their physician and family members.
However, the pros of the SAGE test outweigh the cons. It is reliable, quick, easily administered, free of charge and accurate to quite an extent. With more and more people being affected by Alzheimer’s, this test is a much-needed answer to the precarious situation.