Posted by: Bert Copple | October 6, 2010

Alzheimer’s is Better Spotted By Friends and Family Than Traditional Screening Tests

Friends and family members of people who are beginning to shows signs of early dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease tend to be more aware of these signs than the screening tests are able to pick up, a new study says in the medical journal Brain. These tests usually consist of an individual being put through a range of cognitive tasks to gauge memory, such as comparing shapes or remembering a list, all being evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Investigators at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis developed a different way of testing somebody’s memory and cognition – the two-minute Ascertain Dementia 8 questionnaire – it relies on somebody who knows the individual well, usually a friend or close relative. They call this person an informant, and he/she evaluates whether any alterations in the individual’s cognition have undermined their ability to carry out everyday tasks.

The two-minute Ascertain Dementia 8 questionnaire (AD8) was validated by comparing its results with patients who were found to have biomarkers (biological indicators) for Alzheimer’s disease, such as excessive levels of specific factors in the spinal fluid, or the detection of Alzheimer’s plaques from brain scans.

The AD8 questionnaires were able to match the biomarker scores even better than the traditional screening tests’ results did.

John C. Morris, MD, Director, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Washington University School of Medicine, said:

It’s not economically feasible to screen everyone for Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers. The AD8 gives us a brief and very low-cost alternative that takes a few minutes of the informant’s time to screen for dementia and thus identify those individuals who need follow-up evaluations to determine if there truly are signs of Alzheimer’s.

With the AD8 questionnaire, the informant is asked to rate any changes they have noticed in the following areas:

  • Have there been any problems with judgment? An example may be a bad financial decision.
  • Has the individual’s interest in hobbies or other activities diminished?
  • Does the individual repeat things, such as stories, statements or questions?
  • Does the person have problems learning how to use gadgets or appliances, such as the TV remote or a microwave oven?
  • Has the person forgotten which month or year it is?
  • Have you noticed any difficulty in his/her handling of complicated financial affairs, such as balancing a checkbook?
  • Does he/she forget appointments more frequently than before?
  • Have you noticed any consistent problems with memory or thinking?

All the informant has to do is answer with a Yes or No. A Yes gets one point – if the questionnaire scores at least two points, it means the individual would benefit from further evaluation.

The research performed is a wonderful find for loved ones of people who may suspect that dementia may be setting in. It is always very hard when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, because if it is not caught early enough it may be too late to act and slow the process. People should consider these AD8 tests as an accurate and much more cost-effective alternative for testing a loved one for dementia. The AD8 is currently used in several countries – it has been translated into many languages, the authors wrote.

Sometimes people need extra help with loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, and I have no one better to recommend than Home Instead Senior Care. Caregivers are specially trained to respond and help seniors who may be suffering from dementia, ranging from mild to extreme.

Home Instead Senior Care will provide outstanding caregivers to help your loved one with personal care, incidental travel, companionship, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and even meal preparation. To learn more, call 248-203-2273 or visit www.homeinstead.com . Home Instead Senior Care is the world’s trusted source of in-home non-commercial personal care and companionship for seniors. Each franchise is independently owned and operated. And remember, to us, it’s personal.

SOURCE: Medical News Today

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