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Mental Test Spots Alzheimer's Risk
Date:7/1/2008

Questionnaire for those close to patient pinpointed who was likely to progress to dementia

TUESDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- A new questionnaire may help in both diagnosing older adults facing dementia and also in identifying individuals who need help with daily living.

The Everyday Cognition instrument consists of 39 questions to be answered by people who know the patient well.

"There have been a number of studies that show that people with mild cognitive impairment who have functional problems in addition to performing poorly on neuropsychological testing are more likely to progress in the near future," said study author Sarah Tomaszewski Farias, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center in Sacramento. "One of our hopes is that this instrument will be able to help identify very early on those people at increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease."

That would help both patients and family members prepare for what lies ahead and identify patients who need to be more closely monitored.

In addition, Farias said, the test would also help identify "people who are having [functional] problems so that we know who needs help and who doesn't."

"What's nice about this is that it is designed to pick up very early memory problems, and it's an entirely caregiver-based survey," said Dr. Scott Turner, incoming director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. "This is something the caregiver can fill out, while the practitioner is looking at the patient. It could be used for screening, for diagnosis and for drug development, if you want to look for some proof that your drug is having some effect, so it has a lot of potential uses."

"They want something that they could use to ask a family member about the potential patient's everyday functioning to see if that's sensitive to picking up the li
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