New At-Home Test May Detect Early Signs of Alzheimer's

The test will not make a final diagnosis but since it may pick up early signs of short-term memory loss and thinking problems, it may lead to a cure for treatable forms of memory loss and life-changing treatment for Alzheimer’s

By Bruce Hensel and Matthew Glasser
|  Monday, Jan 13, 2014  |  Updated 9:26 PM PDT
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A new at-home test is making it easier for people to detect early signs of memory loss. This could lead to earlier treatments for conditions like Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Jan. 13, 2014.

Dr. Bruce Hensel

A new at-home test is making it easier for people to detect early signs of memory loss. This could lead to earlier treatments for conditions like Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Jan. 13, 2014.

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A new at-home test could help spot early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Most memory problems are not due to Alzheimer’s. But when forgetfulness is caused by the disease, early treatment can make a major difference in quality of life.

Determining whether one needs early treatment for Alzheimer’s is becoming even easier, now with a simple at-home test called SAGE.

The test takes a few minutes and only requires a pen and paper.

Dr. Douglas Scharre and his team at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center developed and administered the test to more than 1,000 patients over five years.

More: Take the SAGE Test

Scharre’s team found that nearly 30 percent of those tested showed early signs of thinking problems they didn’t know they had.

“If we see this change, we can catch it really early,” he said.

And that’s crucial because most Alzheimer’s patients delay treatment for three to four years.

“We’re finding better treatments, and if you start earlier, you do much better than if you start the treatments two, three, four years later,” Scharre said.

In addition to early diagnosis, the test can be used to follow the results of treatment.

To be clear, the test will not make a final diagnosis but since it may pick up early signs of short-term memory loss and thinking problems, it may lead to a cure for treatable forms of memory loss and life-changing treatment for Alzheimer’s – a major step for many patients and their families.

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