This At-Home Test May Be Able to Tell You if You Have Dementia

A pen, a piece of paper and 15 minutes may be all you need to determine whether you or a loved one have early signs of cognitive impairment, which may lead to dementia.

The threat of an Alzheimerís diagnosis looms large as we get older, periodically rearing its head when we misplace our keys or forget an item at the grocery store. Scientists and laymen alike have long searched for a simple way to distinguish between normal mental slips and true signs of dementia.

Thereís no way to know for sure whether a one-off symptom is a sign of something more sinister, but experts are heartened by the apparent accuracy of the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination, otherwise known as SAGE, a cognitive functioning test created by a group of scientists from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

SAGE is a free, pen-and-paper test consisting of a dozen questions and problems aimed at evaluating a personís executive functioning, memory, language and reasoning skills, and ability to orient themselves in space and time.

After giving SAGE to more than 1,000 older adults over a period of five years, researchers concluded that the test could detect concerning signs of cognitive impairment about 80 percent of the timeóan astounding record given that it can be taken in just 15 minutes, without a professional administrator.

Twenty-eight percent of those who took the test missed six out of the 22 pointsóenough of a deficit to warrant further investigation by a doctor, according to the creators.

The benefits of early diagnosis

A full 75 percent of people who have dementia remain undiagnosed, according to a 2011 report by Alzheimerís Disease International (ADI). This alarming number becomes even more tragic in light of the fact that, while no treatment can prevent or cure Alzheimerís (and most other forms of dementia), an early diagnosis is key to making the most out of available treatments.

While SAGE cannot definitively diagnose dementia, the test can be used to track an aging adultís mental acuity over time, capturing concerning declines before they become bigger problems and allowing doctors and other medical professionals to intervene earlier.

That is where the testís true value lies, according to Douglas Scharre, SAGEís co-creator and director of the Division of Cognitive Neurology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Hopefully, this test will help change those situations. We are finding better treatments, and we know that patients do much better if they start treatments sooner rather than later,” he said in a press release.

Click here to read more about the SAGE test and learn where to download a free copy. Ė Fade to Blank: Life Inside Alzheimerís

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How Alzheimer’s is Diagnosed
An Insider’s Perspective on Life With Alzheimer’s
How We can Create a Dementia-Friendly Society
Why Medicare May Not Pay for the Latest Alzheimer’s Test

By Anne-Marie Botek, Editor


Magdalena J.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you!

Sandra Penna
Sandra Penna4 years ago


Tanya Selth
Tanya Selth4 years ago


Im at high risk of Dementia as I carry the gene for it (40% risk I'll get it by the age of 50 or older). Im only 42 and do have severe memory issues, its thou hard to say if they are due to early onset dementia or another illness I have (ME/CFS). I'd like to do this test to monitor myself on a yearly basis to find out if Im in a major brain decline. Im quite worried.

Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa4 years ago

Thank you :)

Winn Adams
Winn A4 years ago


Winn Adams
Winn A4 years ago


Janis K.
Janis K4 years ago


Diane Kott
Diane Kott4 years ago

I could not find the "simple, 15-minutes paper and pencil test" that indicates with 80% accuracy a chance of Alzheimers in the article --just lots of advertising. Could someone just send me the link please.

Barb Hansen
Ba H4 years ago

"medical" testing of this kind is dangerous in the hands of non-professionals. take results with a grain of salt.

Berny p.
berny p4 years ago

Passing this on as I think my brother in law has it!