Dementia signs and symptoms depend on the part of the brain that has been damaged.
But general signs to look out for can include memory loss, difficulty concentrating and being confused about time and place.
If you think you or a loved one has dementia your first step should be to see your GP, who may then refer you to a dementia specialist who can better understand your symptoms.
If recognising initial symptoms is difficult, then one test, the SAGE test, could help.
SAGE stands for Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination, and the test developed by the Wexner Medical Centre at the Ohio State University is designed to detect early signs of cognitive decline or issues with memory, which are often indicators of dementia. The test can be found online here.
The test comes in the form of a simple written exam and features questions on six areas:
- Orientation (such as the date)
- Language (verbal fluency and picture naming)
- Reasoning and computation (abstraction and calculation)
- Visuospatial (3D construction and clock-drawing)
- Executive (problem-solving tasks)
Werner Medical Center explains on its website: “You may want to take SAGE if you are concerned that you might have cognitive issues. Or you may wish to have your family or friends take the test if they are having memory or thinking problems.
“The difficulties listed can be early signs of cognitive and brain dysfunction. While dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can lead to these symptoms, there are many other treatable disorders that also may cause these signs.
“It is normal to experience some memory loss and to take longer to recall events as you age. But if the changes you are experiencing are worrying you or others around you, SAGE can be a helpful tool to assess if further evaluation is necessary.
“Unfortunately, many people do not seek help for these kinds of symptoms until they have experienced them for several years. There are many treatable causes of cognitive and thinking loss, and in some cases, medications or other treatments can be very effective-especially if provided when symptoms first begin.
“Remember that SAGE does not diagnose any specific condition. The results of SAGE will not tell you if you have Alzheimer’s disease, mini-strokes or any number of other disorders. But the results can help your doctor know if further evaluation is necessary.”
After you complete the test, which can be downloaded from online, the results can be logged by your doctor, and if there’s nothing of concern, the test can be repeated several times over the course of many years.
This makes it easy to keep track of differences in scores over time, highlighting people who might be prone to the disease.
It takes around 10 to 15 minutes to complete the four-page test, but there is no time limit.
There are four interchangeable versions of the SAGE test, designed to avoid getting a better score once you’ve completed it more than once, and to prevent cheating.
People with scores between 22 (the maximum score) and 17 are likely to have normal cognition.
Those with scores of 15 or 16 are likely to have mild cognitive impairment, and people with scores of 14 or less are likely to have dementia.
Doing the test for the first time represents the ‘baseline’ from which future changes in score can be monitored.
Published at Fri, 26 Oct 2018 16:47:00 +0000