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Friends, family detect early Alzheimer's signs better than traditional tests
Date:9/27/2010

her mental abilities have changed doesn't necessarily produce accurate results either, Morris says, because persons with early-stage dementia often lack insight into their problem.

Researchers at the Knight Alzheimer' s Disease Research Center, including first author James Galvin, MD, now at New York University, developed the AD8 from the Center's existing research tools. Informants are asked to rate whether there has been a change in the following areas:

  • Problems with judgment, such as bad financial decisions;
  • Reduced interest in hobbies and other activities;
  • Repeating of questions, stories or statements;
  • Trouble learning how to use a tool or appliance, such as a television remote control or a microwave;
  • Forgetting the month or year;
  • Difficulty handling complicated financial affairs, such as balancing a checkbook;
  • Difficulty remembering appointments; and
  • Consistent problems with thinking and memory.

Informants can respond yes or no to each item; each "yes" response is worth a point, and a score of two or more indicates a need for additional evaluation.

According to Morris, informants who have regular exposure to the individual provide the most accurate assessments.

"These informants can give us the retrospective perspective we need to know that a person's mental abilities have begun to meaningfully decline, indicating that additional testing is needed," Morris says.

For the new study, researchers gathered AD8 evaluations on 251 individuals and also tested them using the Mini Mental State exam, a traditional dementia screening test. They then evaluated biomarkers in the individuals, including spinal fluid assays and brain plaque scans.

"Based on our results, the AD8 appears to be superior to conventional testing in its ability to detect signs of early dementia," Morris says. "It can't tell us whether the dementia is caused by Alzheimer's
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Contact: Michael C. Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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