More than five million Americans struggle with Alzheimer’s disease daily, and since a new person is diagnosed every 70 seconds it's critical to catch it early.
There's a new, free test to test your memory and help doctors get you started on the right treatment.
Geneva Marcum is suffering from Alzheimer’s.
"You start out, you find yourself lost and you have to ask for help and that's hard," she said.
Geneva's mother and three brothers have all dealt with Alzheimer’s. The family history includes physical exams, cognitive tests, brain scans and blood tests that help determine the cause of memory loss.
"Patients don't come to their doctor to complain, I got memory loss that they might with a sore thumb. So they put it off, they think they don't have a problem. So they don't tell the doctor and the doctor has no clue," said Dr. Douglas Scharre, Director of the Division of Cognitive Neurology at Ohio State University.
Doctor Scharre developed this simple, free test. It asks patients to identify pictures, draw, and test their memory. Some problems suggest signs of Alzheimer's. Struggling with the visual and spatial skills on the test could mean dementia, and issues with planning and problem solving point to medication interactions. Doctors can interpret the results in less than a minute.
"You can just look at it and clearly see that it's clearly wrong or clearly right and you'll get a gestalt that they're not really doing well," said Dr. Scharre.
Geneva took the test for us, answering nine out of 22 questions correctly. Missing just six questions is a red flag.
"I could have done a lot better than that. I know that," she said.
Doctor Scharre says Geneva has trouble with calculations, word finding, problem solving and memory. While a bout with Alzheimer’s is frightening - Geneva will always remember who to call-on for help.
"I don't ever forget my daughter's name," says Geneva.
You can download this test at www.sagetest.edu.
While it's free, it should be administered by a doctor so they can interpret it correctly.
Doctor Scharre says this test can not only detect memory problems early, but it can also calm the fears of people who think they're losing their memory.
Bottom line, it's much cheaper than an MRI or other tests.