What's going on in your brain?: image via alzheimersreadingroom.comI have mixed feelings about taking tests to see if I have the beginnings of Alzheimer's disease or some other age-related cognitive problem. The thought scares me to death - like most of you, probably. But rationally, I know it's best to learn about it early if you have it. This particular test, the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE), was so readily available I couldn't not take it, especially if I wanted to share it with you....
The SAGE is a 4-page test you take with pen and paper. There are 4 versions in PDF format; pick one of the four and download it, print, and take it in a quiet room without onlookers. It takes 10 to 15 minutes. You need not worry about the difficulty of the SAGE in terms of your
knowledge. It's not the SAT's. The questions are very basic; they test "language, cognition, visuo-spatial, executive,
and memory domains."
After taking the test, you are encouraged to share the results with your primary care physician. The SAGE website has instructions for your doctor to interpret your results.
Developed by neuropsychiatrists at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University, SAGE correlated with more sophisticated tests of cognitive ability in 80 percent of persons who were identified as having mild thinking and memory problems. Of 1,045 persons over 50 years old who took the SAGE test, 28 percent were identified as having cognitive impairments. The data on the reliability of the test is published online in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.
Dr. Douglas Scharre, lead developer of the SAGE test, told the British Telegraph that the test should be taken every few years to see if there's been any decline in abilities, so that measures can be taken as early as possible. There's no cure for Alzheimer's, but if diagnosed early, there are interventions, including drug therapies, that can slow its progression.
My mother took a similar test when she was in her early 80's and was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's disease. She took a drug called Aricept for many years and did not show a real significant decline in cognition until she suffered a stroke in her 90's, so I've been persuaded by her experience to test early.
I took version 3 of the SAGE test. My answers were fine. I'm (still) okay, and I shared the test with my husband to make sure. If you are over 50 (and mental decline begins between 45 and 49 years of age), you may want to take this self-administered test too and share it with your physician if you have any concerns.
sources: BMJ.com, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Telegraph, Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, via AARP
Keeping you posted....