A US study has found that a cognitive test designed to be carried out at home may be useful for detecting memory and thinking problems in people over 50. The research, which investigated the usefulness of the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE), is published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.
Researchers at Ohio State University recruited 1,047 over-50s and asked them to take the SAGE test, a four-page questionnaire designed for use in the home. When the researchers scored the participants’ answers, they identified 28% of the group as having some cognitive impairment, with older participants more likely to have lower scores than younger people.
The researchers argue that their test could be used by doctors to provide a ‘baseline’ measure of people’s memory and thinking skills, and that future re-tests may help to track changes in memory that may indicate dementia. They suggest that the test could have advantages over existing memory tests used in the clinic, which can be time-consuming to carry out.
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Further research is needed to confirm whether the SAGE test would be suitable to assess and track changes in people’s memory and thinking skills. One drawback of this study is that the test was not compared with other existing cognitive tests. It’s important to note that the test is not designed to diagnose dementia, and people who are worried about their memory should seek advice from a doctor rather than attempting self-diagnosis with a test at home. There is currently not enough evidence to suggest that dementia screening for people who do not have memory concerns would be beneficial.
“Diagnosing the different diseases that cause dementia can be difficult in the earliest stages, which is why Alzheimer’s Research UK is supporting research to improve diagnosis methods. Years of research are needed to develop any new diagnostic test, and this means continued investment in research is crucial.”