Scientists Develop At-Home Test to Spot Alzheimer’s Disease in its Early Stages

Researchers say the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination, or SAGE test, is an efficient way to test large numbers of people for decline in cognitive abilities. The decline in these brain skills are often early signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Patients can take the SAGE test at home without supervision; the test takes no more than 15 minutes to finish completely.

Published in the January 2014 issue of The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, researchers from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center confirmed the efficiency and feasibility of this diagnostic tool for screening people in large numbers. The researchers were present at 45 events in the community where individuals were asked to take an easy pen-and-paper test that measures dementia or early loss of cognitive functions. Out of the total number of 1,047 people aged 50 and older that completed the self-administered test, 28 percent showed signs of cognitive impairment. These results correlate well with more detailed testing.

Patients can take the test at home, and afterwards may share their results with a physician of their choosing. While the SAGE test does not diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, it does identify decline in cognitive function. This testing may allow the patient-physician dialog about decline in cognitive function and its treatment to begin earlier in the disease. The researchers point out that the subtle signs of cognitive disorders in the earliest stages can often be easy to miss in an office setting.

Contact your doctor, local assisted living facility, elder care institution, or home care professional for more information on the SAGE test. The test requires only a pen or pencil, may be administered in nearly any setting, and does not require staff time for administration or interpretation.