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When Should You Get Tested For Alzheimer’s

Free Ohio State Sage Tests

Should you get a Genetic Test for Alzheimer’s Disease? | Being Patient

The Ohio State University Medical Center’s Department of Neurology has developed several free tests which you can download and use for free here Sage Test. There are several versions of this test that you can use. They are more complex than the oral tests above and might be good for someone who would resist having you test them, but might be willing to take a written test.

Alzheimers Tests Soon May Be Common Should You Get One

Diagnostic tests for Alzheimers disease are already here. But the results may raise as many questions as they answer.

By Gina Kolata

Not long ago, the only way to know if someone had Alzheimers disease was to examine the brain in an autopsy.

That is changing and fast with brain scans and spinal taps that can detect beta amyloid, the telltale Alzheimers protein.

There is a blood test on the horizon that can detect beta amyloid, and researchers are experimenting with scans to look for another protein, called tau, also characteristic of Alzheimers.

As this sort of diagnostic testing becomes widespread, more people who fear their memories are slipping will face a difficult question: Would I really want to know if I were getting Alzheimers disease?

This is a new era, and we are just at the precipice, said Dr. Gil Rabinovici, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

A positive test could help you get your affairs in order and plan your future. And a drug company, Biogen, claims to have the first treatment that may slow the course of the disease if begun early enough.

Health insurers are prohibited by law for now, at least from denying coverage if you have Alzheimers. But there is nothing that prevents long-term-care and life insurers from denying you.

New Alzheimers Disease Treatment Approved

For some who have been given diagnostic tests, those questions are all too real.

The result? He was in the early stages of Alzheimers disease.

Planning For The Future

If possible, make decisions while your loved one is able to take part in the decision making. These are difficult but important conversations. Questions include:

  • What kind of care does he or she need right now?
  • Who will take care of him or her in the future?
  • What can the family expect as the disease progresses?
  • What kind of financial and legal planning needs to be done?

Education of the family and other caregivers is critical to successfully caring for someone who has dementia. If you are or will be a caregiver, start learning what you can expect and what you can do to manage problems as they arise. For more information, see Home Treatment.

Read Also: How To Definitively Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease

Should I Go To My Gp About My Memory Lapses

If you are aware of your own memory lapses and they do not appear to be getting worse with time, it is very unlikely that you have dementia. The changes in the brain that happen when someone has dementia can make it difficult for that person to think clearly about the impact their own memory issues are having. So if you are worrying that your memory is getting worse, but no one else who knows you is, you probably do not need to go and see your doctor.

There are many factors that can affect your memory that are not related to dementia: a lack of sleep, stress, the menopause, physical ill health, vitamin deficiency or a change in medication can all affect your memory.

There are things you can try which will improve your overall health, which as a result, can help with improving your memory, as well as delaying the onset of dementia.

Discuss Test Results With A Doctor

Six Questions That Could Show If Youre At Risk Of ...

Dont assume that the test results are equal to a diagnosis of any kind.

The SAGE test is a screening tool that helps doctors detect early signs of cognitive impairment that are typically not noticeable during a normal office visit.

When the test is repeated over time, doctors can watch for changes in cognitive ability. Being able to measure changes helps them detect and treat health conditions early.

Thats why its important to bring the completed test to the doctor to have it reviewed. If there are signs of cognitive impairment, they may recommend further testing.

Also Check: What Is The Difference Between Alzheimer’s And Parkinson’s

Can Dementia Suddenly Get Worse

The progression of dementia depends on the underlying disease. Some diseases have a rapid progression. Others progress more slowly. Any sudden change with either slow or rapid progression should be evaluated for another cause. In most cases, changes with dementia may seem like they came out of the blue when they actually may have been slowly developing in the background. The best way to prepare for changes and manage expectations is through information. Your doctor and medical team will be a valuable resource. There are a variety of educational resources that are also available through the Alzheimer’s Association.

How Long Do Dementia Patients Live After Diagnosis

Dementia symptoms typically progress slowly. People with dementia will progress from mild to severe dementia at varying speeds and may be diagnosed earlier or later in life. Some people with dementia may live for up to 20 years after their diagnosis, though according to the Alzheimer’s Association research shows that the average person lives for four to eight years after a diagnosis of dementia. It’s important to point out that the diagnosis of dementia is often missed, delayed, or diagnosed when the illness is moderate or advanced. The impact of that variable may not be accurately reflected in the research regarding the years of life post-diagnosis.

Read Also: What Effects Does Alzheimer’s Have On The Brain

Potential Breakthrough For Prevention And Treatment

Researchers hope that their findings lead to breakthroughs in treatment methods. Senior study author, Dr. Ed Goetzl, says:

My vision of the future is you have your breakfast cereal, and on one side you have a statin for cardiovascular disease and on the other side you have three pills to prevent dementia.

He went on to state that, This study shows that insulin resistance is a major central nervous system metabolic abnormality in Alzheimers disease that contributes to neural cell damage. As insulin resistance is a known condition in type 2 diabetes and is treatable with several classes of existing drugs, these treatments may be useful as part of a multi-agent program for Alzheimers.

The blood test is still in the early stages of development and will require a larger and longer study before it can be used to detect Alzheimers. The lead author of the study and neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging,;Dimitrios Kapagiannis, says: We will need replication and validation, but Im very optimistic this work will hold.

Do you think the newest blood test is a viable way to prevent Alzheimers disease? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Blood Tests To Check For Other Conditions

When Should I Get Tested For Alzheimer’s?

Your GP will arrange for blood tests to help exclude other causes of symptoms that can be confused with dementia.

In most cases, these blood tests will check:

  • liver function
  • haemoglobin A1c
  • vitamin B12 and folate levels

If your doctor thinks you may have an infection, they may;also ask you to do a urine test or other investigations.

Read more about;blood tests.

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Alzheimer’s Society’s View On Genetic Testing

What we think about genetic testing and how it relates to the needs of people affected by dementia.

Genes play a role in the development of many types of dementia, although the extent of this role varies between dementia types. A person with a parent or sibling with a dementia such as Alzheimers disease has on average a higher risk of developing the same condition themselves, although other factors such as lifestyle can also play a part.

At present, the relationship between genetics and dementia is not fully understood. We do know that a mutation in one of a small number of genes can cause someone to develop frontotemporal dementia or rarer, inherited forms of Alzheimers disease. These conditions both often start in people under the age of 65.

Predictive genetic testing is where the genes of someone who is related by birth to a person with diagnosed dementia are tested. The genetic test aims to see whether the relative has inherited the same mutation and so will go on to develop the dementia. At present such predictive genetic testing is only possible for inherited Alzheimer’s disease, in which very rare mutations in three genes are implicated, and frontotemporal dementia, which has known mutations in at least six;genes. The most common form of Alzheimers disease affects about 520,000 people in the UK and most often starts in people over the age of 65. There are no approved predictive genetic tests for this form of the condition.

Is Dementia A Mental Illness

Dementia is a mental health disorder as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association changed the name to Major Neurocognitive Disorder, which is a mouthful. The change was made in order to provide a clearer description of the problem. Whats most important to know is that dementias can involve changes to emotions, behaviors, perceptions, and movements in addition to memory and thinking.

Don’t Miss: Is Lewy Body Dementia A Genetic Disorder

What Causes Dementia To Progress So Quickly

Dementia symptoms are typically mild at first and progress over time to moderate and then severe, over several years. The speed as which dementia progresses varies between individuals, but some factors can cause dementia to progress more quickly. These include the persons age, the type of dementia, and other long term health problems. Dementia tends to progress more slowly in people over 65 compared to younger people below 65.

How Does A Doctor Test For Dementia

When to Get Tested for Dementia

There is no single diagnostic test for Alzheimers disease and other causes of dementia. Dementias are diagnosed by evaluating and understanding a persons memory and thinking patterns. Doctors will consider a persons memory, grasp of language, mood states, problem-solving skills, ability to maintain focus and perform complex tasks. Evaluation may include in-office cognitive screening , physical examination, and review of labs. Labwork helps to determine whether there are vitamin deficiencies or hormonal changes at play. In some cases, evaluation may require neuropsychological testing, brain imaging , and genetic testing.

Also Check: How To Deal With Hallucinations In Dementia Patients

Should I Get Tested For Alzheimers

Alzheimers Disease , first described in 1907, has gone from being a seldom diagnosed form of dementia, to being the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. This drastic change over the last century has been due mostly to the advancements in technology, that have allowed us to better understand and diagnose AD. However it is also in part because of the increasing life expectancy or graying of the population, as the majority of AD sufferers are over the age of 65. Currently it is estimated that there are more than 47 million people in the world suffering from AD, with that number expected to climb to 75 million by 2050, and its currently costing the U.S 277 billion. Although the causes AD are still not fully understood, we do know that there are several genetic factors the most significant being the APOE gene, as well as various other factors which are closely correlated. Carriers of the homozygous APOE4 variant have more than a 50 percent risk of developing AD over their lifetime. As such, if you have a familial history of dementia or think you are experiencing any symptoms it might be important for some of us to get tested. Kits like 23andme are becoming more prevalent and for many of us they are now available at most major pharmacies. However, before you decide to go out and buy a kit, it might be important to consider if genetic testing is right for you.

What is Alzheimers?

Pathogenesis

What does this mean?

How Does A Gp Test For Dementia

Currently there are no physical tests for dementia, such as a blood test or scan. There are, however, a range of tests that GPs will do, to rule out any other physical causes for the problems you are having. This might include blood tests to check for deficiencies or abnormalities. Other mental health conditions will also be ruled out such as depression, stress and anxiety. The test for depression a GP will give you is also a series of questions, about how you feel.

In addition, a GP might ask you a series of questions to establish if you are having problems with your concentration, memory, reasoning and spatial awareness. These might include asking what is the day, time or year; who the Prime Minister is; and asking you to perform a task, such as counting backwards from 100.

If you are taking a relative to the doctor about their memory, it is worth telling the GP any facts about your relative which might affect this test: for instance, someone who worked as an accountant or who has always been very good with numbers might continue to be good with numbers even with dementia. So counting backwards from 100 might not be a good indication of cognitive impairment in that person.

If the GP does suspect that you or your relative might have some sort of cognitive impairment, they will probably refer you to a Memory Assessment Team/ Clinic or a dementia specialist.

Read Also: How Do You Spell Alzheimer’s Disease

What Have Previous Tests And Treatments Looked Like And Why Have They Been Unsuccessful

Paulson: The cerebrospinal fluid measurements are actually quite good at helping doctors make the diagnosis of Alzheimers versus another dementia, but the ordeal of undergoing a procedure that many patients are not eager to undergo means that cerebrospinal fluid measurements are not routinely used in clinical practice.

PET imaging of amyloid and tau is remarkably powerful, but, in the current absence of insurance coverage, most patients simply cannot afford it. Thus, for now, it remains a research test.

Treatments are another matter altogether. While anti-amyloid therapies continue to be tested, they have not been robustly positive in clinical trials. We dont yet know if that lack of effectiveness is due, perhaps, to giving the treatments too late or due to anti-amyloid treatments simply being insufficient as a therapy for Alzheimers.

A simple and sensitive blood test that could pinpoint the Alzheimers disease process well before any cognitive symptoms would allow us to give any potential disease-slowing therapy anti-amyloid, anti-tau, anti-inflammatory at a very early point in the disease process. Doing so likely will increase our chances of finding an effective therapy.

What Are The Benefits Of Early Diagnosis

At what age should one be tested for dementia?

Early planning and assistanceEarly diagnosis enables a person with dementia and their family to receive help in understanding and adjusting to the diagnosis and to prepare for the future in an appropriate way. This might include making legal and financial arrangements, changes to living arrangements, and finding out about aids and services that will enhance quality of life for people with dementia and their family and friends. Early diagnosis can allow the individual to have an active role in decision making and planning for the future while families can educate themselves about the disease and learn effective ways of interacting with the person with dementia.

Checking concernsChanges in memory and thinking ability can be very worrying. Symptoms of dementia can be caused by several different diseases and conditions, some of which are treatable and reversible, including infections, depression, medication side-effects or nutritional deficiencies. The sooner the cause of dementia symptoms is identified, the sooner treatment can begin. Asking a doctor to check any symptoms and to identify the cause of symptoms can bring relief to people and their families.

Read Also: How To Deal With Someone With Dementia

Take The Sage Test At Home

Anyone can take the SAGE test anytime. Its free and you can get it here on the Ohio State University website.

Print the test and take it with a pen or pencil. Theres no time limit, but most people finish in about 15 minutes.

Sample questions from the test:

  • How many nickels are in 60 cents?
  • You are buying $13.45 of groceries. How much change would you receive back from a $20 bill?
  • Write down the names of 12 different animals.
  • Draw a large face of a clock and place in the numbers.Position the hands for 10 minutes after 11 oclock. On your clock, label L for the long hand and S for the short hand.

How Could An Earlier Diagnosis Of Alzheimers Affect The Treatment And Care Of Patients

Kanaan: Early detection of Alzheimers disease and other dementias is a critical factor in furthering our understanding of disease etiology and progression. Indeed, identifying a disease like Alzheimers accurately and early, before significant cognitive decline occurs, could provide a therapeutic window in which administration of future therapeutics could slow or stop the disease.

Also Check: How Early Can Dementia Start

Signs Your Parent Needs To Be Tested

Just because your parent might be starting to forget things every now and then doesnât mean Alzheimerâs disease or another type of dementia is the cause. However, itâs important to be on the lookout for changes that arenât a normal part of the aging process. According to the National Institute on Aging and Mayo Clinic, these are early signs of more serious memory problems:

  • Repeating questions
  • Mixing up wordsâusing the wrong word to identify something
  • Taking longer to complete familiar tasks
  • Getting lost in familiar area
  • Not being able to follow directions
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Confusion about time, people and places
  • Neglecting personal hygiene

Your parent should see a doctor if he or she is experiencing these problems. Itâs important for him or her to be tested to see if symptoms are due to Alzheimerâs, another type of dementia or something else entirely. Dementia-like symptoms can be caused by depression, sleep apnea, thyroid problems, vitamin deficiencies, medication side effects or excessive alcohol consumptionâall of which can be helped with treatment.

Although there is no cure for Alzheimerâs disease, an early diagnosis will allow your parent to get treatment that can lessen symptoms. Plus, it will give you and your parent more time to discuss what sort of care he or she wants and to make a plan to pay for that care.

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