Critter Corner: SAGE Test Helps Families Test Senior Cognitive Ability

Dear Oakley,

I heard that there is a test where you can identify early signs of dementia at home. Can you tell me more about it?

Thanks for your help!

Tess Tatthome

Dear Tess,

The SAGE test (Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination)  is a self-administered test designed to detect early signs of dementia, available for free online from researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s College of Medicine and College of Public Health.

The SAGE test helps identify orientation, language, memory, and executive functioning abilities. The test does not diagnose specific diseases such as Alzheimer’s, but it does help identify if someone is having memory or thinking problems that might lead to dementia. Even for people who are mentally fine right now, this test allows doctors to get a baseline of a person’s cognitive functioning. Repeat testing allows patients and doctors to track their memory and thinking abilities over time.

Eight-Year Study Measures Effectiveness of SAGE Test

Dr. Douglas Scharre led the eight-year study to test the effectiveness of the SAGE test. Researchers assessed the accuracy of the SAGE test in more than 400 patients who were followed for nearly nine years and found that when results from different points in time were compared, age-related memory loss could be distinguished from the early stages of dementia, according to the report published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy.

Dr. Scharre said the SAGE test is critical to effective treatment if it identifies problems early. According to Dr. Scharre, “We designed the test to pick up people with mild cognitive impairment. This is just when you’re beginning to have some issues from your normal excellent state.”

Scharre also said this test should be used before a person would develop conditions, such as dementia, where they would need help with day-to-day activities.

Researchers said the test can be taken anywhere and can be completed in about 10 to 15 minutes. The results of the self-administered test are supposed to be scored by a physician. However, for those who like to figure out stuff on their own, it’s possible to download the test and learn how to score it via the SAGE’s physician’s section. Scharre notes that there are four different versions of the test, so people won’t get a boost from remembering what was on the exam the last time they took it.

Researchers caution that it’s important to understand that the results of these tests are not a diagnosis of any disease or condition. A lot of things besides brain changes can lead to cognitive decline, some of them curable.

Click here to learn more and to take the SAGE test.

Happy holidays!


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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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