Sam Baman: Self-test can ID dementia early | NevadaAppeal.com

Sam Baman: Self-test can ID dementia early

Sam Bauman

The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam, or SAGE, has the potential to improve lives and change memory care through earlier detection of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Researchers have been exploring ways to diagnose Alzheimer's that are promising, but still in the research phase.

Traditionally, physicians have conducted memory screenings, and tests may not be given unless memory problems are suspected. SAGE is essentially a do-it-yourself memory screening test with the advantage of accessibility for those who don't see the physician as often as they ought to.

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer's and dementia is important and has many benefits. While treatments for Alzheimer's are limited in their effectiveness, they have the best chance of helping when they start early.

Early detection has other benefits to a senior and his or her loved ones:

• The chance for the senior to build better relationships with physicians and caregivers

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• Ability to participate in clinical trials

• Time for the senior to make decisions about future care, financial and legal matters

Early warning of cognitive problems allows the senior's loved ones to remain more vigilant. Dr. Douglas Scharre, who helped develop SAGE, says that "The results can be a signal that caregivers may need to begin closer monitoring of the patient to ensure their safety and good health is not compromised and that they are protected from financial predators."

SAGE was developed and published by experts at The Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center and is made up of a series of questions that take about 15 minutes to answer. It may be given simultaneously to large groups at senior centers or printed and taken at home. The test is simple enough that a senior's loved ones could make a preliminary evaluation of the test themselves. A guide to interpreting results can be downloaded, but there is no score sheet because many questions have multiple correct answers.

The test's developers advise:

"After you complete the test, take it to your primary care physician. Your doctor will score it and interpret the results. If indicated, your doctor will order some tests to further evaluate your symptoms or refer you for further evaluation. If your score does not indicate any need for further evaluation, your doctor can keep the test on file as a baseline for the future."

Four versions of the test means that the test can be repeated, and changes could be noticed over time.

You can learn more about SAGE at sage.edu.

Seniors' notes

Those who plan to take in "Ring of Fire," a tribute to Johnny Cash at the Eldorado Casino in Reno, can take advantage of a reduced ticket rate for seniors at the box office. They also are alerted to keep an eye peeled for the slim and trim woman named Amberly Rosen, who plays the violin while dancing and singing and also plays mandolin, bass, acoustic guitar and piano. The cast of nine actually plays; there was no dubbing that I could catch. And "I Walk the Line" is as poignant as ever.

Paradise Spa and Fitness Center off College Parkway is celebrating its new home March 27-30 with a daily giveaway of $2,500 in prizes and passes. They take good care of seniors there. Boulder ski lodge Heavenly is only open on weekends, so if you enjoy the Boulder run and North Bowl challenges, skip the week there.

Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.

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