June 5, 2014
Test Yourself for Dementia
Dementia is a critical personal finance issue when so much is at stake in managing, investing, and spending one’s lifetime savings. But one study found that, in the vast majority of older couples, the person in charge of managing the household finances continues to do so after dementia sets in.
Dementia can be difficult to perceive in oneself or a spouse or parent, because changes are usually so gradual, psychologists say.
Individuals can now get a rough assessment of their own or a loved one’s cognitive abilities with a test posted on the website of Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. Spokeswoman Elaine Scahill said more than 900,000 people have downloaded the test since it went online in mid-January as a public service.
The test, appropriately named SAGE – for Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam – is similar to others used by mental health professionals as an initial screen; another one is the Montreal Cognitive Assessment.
These tests are intended only to sort out people who might have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and the results are not definitive. To fully and accurately assess cognitive function, a professional must administer a complete neuropsychological examination.
But Scahill said Wexner Medical Center urges people to take this test and show the results to their primary care doctor to establish a baseline score. Then they can take it again every few years to track how their performance might be changing.
When problems arise, Scahill said, “the sooner they can get in and start seeking treatment the better.”