Currently five million Americans are living with Alzheimer's or Dementia and the number of individuals with the disease but undiagnosed is likely much larger. The most prevalent symptoms is memory loss. Affected individuals may forget and may have to ask the same questions several times. They have difficulty remembering recently learned information, forget dates, appointments, or where they left belongings.
Dementia is a general term used to describe a number of symptoms related to the loss of cognitive ability. Alzheimer's is a form of dementia. It is especially difficult to spot because of it's slow onset. This makes treatment more difficult as the disease is often not diagnosed until it has progressed to an advanced stage.
A team of researches at Emory University developed a rapid screening test to detect mild cognitive impairment. Published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, this new screening process allowed researchers to correctly classify the participants at 83% accuracy as cognitively: normal, demented or mildly impaired.
5 - Minute Test to Diagnose Alzheimer's
Here is how to complete the 5 minute Test at Home (This requires the person being tested to be present with you)
Test 1: Name Three Words
State three unrelated words ( e.g. lamp, Bob, fridge) and ask the person being tested to repeat these objects back to you. If the person is unable to list these three words after several attempts, please speak with a physician immediately. If the person can list these three words within one or a few attempts, move to step 2.
Test 2: Draw a Clock
Ask the person being tested to draw a clock. A normal clock would have a circle and numbers distributed fairly evenly around the circumference. If the drawing looks abnormal, this may be a sign of mild cognitive impairment.
Test 3: Repeat the Three Words
Ask the person to repeat the words from test 1. If the person can remember all three words, they are probably not suffering from dementia. However, if they are unable to remember any of these words, this could be a sign of mild cognitive impairment.
Test 4: Functional Activities
For this section, use the following scoring system to rate the person's ability:
- Dependent = 3
- Requires Assistance = 2
- Has Difficulty but does by Self = 1
- Normal = 0
- Never did ( the activity) but could do = 0
- Never did ( the activity) but suspect would have difficulty = 1
1. Writing checks, pay bills, balancing checkbook
2. Assembling tax records, business affairs, or papers
3. Shopping Alone for clothes, household necessities, or groceries
4. Playing a game of skill, working on a hobby
5. Heating water, making a cup of coffee, turning off the stove after use
6. Preparing a balanced meal
7. Keeping track of current events
8. Paying attention to, understanding, discussing TV, book, magazine
9. Remembering appointments, family occasions, holidays, medications
10. Traveling out of neighborhood, driving, arranging to take buses.
Add up the total score. If scored 9 or higher, this is a possible indication of impaired function or cognitive impairment.
What does this mean?
If after taking this test you are concerned, consult a physician who can conduct more formal testing. According to James Lal, MD, associate professor of neurology, Emory University School of Medicine and lead investigator of the study, a test like this is critical and key to helping individuals detect this disease earlier and maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible.
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