Early detection of dementia can improve quality of life. A quick, easy-to-take at-home test called the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) can help identify signs of dementia years before diagnosis.
What is the SAGE Test?
The SAGE test is a short pen and paper screening that evaluates thinking abilities related to memory, language, reasoning and visuospatial skills. It consists of questions like naming animals, solving math problems and drawing a clock face. The simple format allows anyone to take SAGE on their own at home, without equipment or supervision.
The SAGE test was developed by doctors at Ohio State University to catch early signs of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Research shows SAGE can detect mild cognitive impairment 6 months before standard screens. It cannot diagnose dementia, but can indicate if further medical evaluation is needed.
Why Take the Quick Dementia Screen?
Dementia involves progressive damage to brain cells that affects memory, cognition and behavior. Early symptoms like memory lapses are often dismissed as normal aging. However, catching dementia early allows the best chance to access support services and emerging treatments that could slow progression.
A dementia diagnosis is made based on medical tests, brain scans and cognitive assessments over time. Since visits to the doctor can be inconvenient and costly, the easily accessible SAGE exam helps identify subtle changes for further evaluation. Periodic at-home screening also establishes a cognitive baseline to better assess declines.
Taking just minutes, SAGE removes barriers to routine cognitive checks before serious impairment emerges. Increased screening empowers more people to seek help at the first signs of dementia, instead of waiting years until significant lifestyle impact.
How the Easy Dementia Test Works
The SAGE test takes only 10-15 minutes to complete at home with pen and paper. There are no time limits or wrong answers. The screener can be taken solo without aids like calendars that cue recall.
To start, individuals simply print out the test and answer 12 questions assessing orientation, memory, language, reasoning and drawing skills. Questions range from naming animals to calculating tip amounts. Afterwards, the paper is brought to a doctor for scoring.
Results help doctors determine if changes over time or compared to peers indicate emerging dementia. Sample questions allow self-comparison on abilities like remembering names, following instructions and concentrating. Large drops prompt further evaluation, though small decreases are normal with aging.
If the score is concerning, the doctor may order tests like blood work or brain scans to investigate causes. They may also schedule periodic re-screening to monitor changes. Around 10-15% with mild impairment progress to dementia annually.
The Science Behind the Quick Dementia Test
The SAGE test was designed by neurologist Dr. Douglas Scharre to provide an accessible self-administered screen for mild cognitive issues, the early phase of dementia. Questions evaluate specific cognitive domains impacted in disorders like Alzheimer’s.
Watch an informative video below to find out how the self-administered SAGE test puts early detection for cognitive, memory or thinking impairments in the hands of patients – and helps physicians to know how well your brain is working!
Studies at Ohio State University compared SAGE to standard screens including the commonly used Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE). They found SAGE identified emerging dementia around 6 months before the MMSE in those with further decline.
This early detection relates to SAGE questions better targeting complex functions impacted before obvious impairment. Areas like multi-step reasoning decline long before orientation questions like naming the date. The quick screen avoids ceiling effects of simpler tests taken yearly that miss early changes.
Easy At Home Screening Allows Proactive Planning
Dementia progresses gradually, often beginning with mild cognitive impairment causing subtle changes. Without screens like SAGE, people dismiss early symptoms or wait years for diagnosis. Early detection from periodic at-home testing provides lead time to plan care before significant impairment.
Notably, there are also other simple and quick at-home screening methods such as the “Clock Draw” test. It can tell us a lot about a person's planning organization, visual construction, and working memory. The Clock Draw test alone can't diagnose dementia, but it's a good addition to other tests. Learn more in a helpful and informative video below.
Catching early signs of dementia allows individuals and families to proactively address safety and future needsbefore dementia impacts daily life. Accessing support services sooner gives more time to arrange care assistance, financial planning and lifestyle changes to manage disease impact. Though incurable, emerging treatments to maintain function longer are best started early.
Diets high in dark leafy greens like spinach and broccoli may help prevent dementia. Berries and omega-3 rich seafood support brain health. Curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory effects. Overall, heart healthy Mediterranean diets fight dementia. Caregivers can prepare brain boosting meals or utilize meal delivery services.
Reading, writing poetry, learning new skills, puzzles and memory games keep the brain active and may delay decline. Virtual reality simulations provide immersive cognitive stimulation. Apps offer science-backed brain training tailored to individual needs. Support groups provide camaraderie while stimulating minds through shared stories and creative arts.
Animal companions motivate people with dementia to engage in daily activity and play. Petting dogs lowers stress hormones and elevates mood through oxytocin release. Taking care of pets gives purpose and routine while dogs encourage essential walking for circulation, vitamin D and social interaction - all protective against dementia.
In fact, simply having a dog can lower your risk of dementia by 48% according to research described in the video below!
Hearing loss doubles dementia risk, as deprived auditory centers atrophy accelerating decline. Hearing aids allow louder, clearer sound input to keep these brain networks active. They also reduce social isolation and depression, enabling more brain stimulating human interaction.
Treating hearing loss proactively can greatly reduce risk of developing dementia, as explained in an educational and entertaining video below.
The easy self-administered SAGE exam removes barriers to routine dementia screening for people of any age noticing changes. Along with prompting medical evaluation, increased community awareness empowers individuals to adopt proactive brain health lifestyles including cognitive stimulation, exercise and healthy diets to possibly slow progression. Catching early signs provides more opportunity to enrich life through pleasures like gardening, music, pets and social bonds - the key to living fully with dementia onset.
Take the Quick Dementia Test Today
The SAGE screen is free and accessible to all. Take the easy, at-home 10-minute test today. If your score indicates possible dementia, prompt follow-up assessment provides the best chance to access emerging treatments and proactively plan for progression of this life-changing disease before significant impairment occurs. Empowered with this information, families can plan and manage affordable senior care for loved ones with dementia. Increased screening allows all people concerned over potential early symptoms the chance to catch dementia sooner for better outcomes.