That was scary. They call it the SAGE test: Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam.
I mean, the name itself is scary. It’s “designed to detect early signs of cognitive, memory or thinking impairments.”
Here I am noodling around on the computer on a cool, cloudy June afternoon, trying to find something to write about. Been trying for a while to make myself jump into a blog. I still think of myself as a writer, even though I haven’t been writing much since I retired, a year-and-a-half ago.
Anyway, an email pops up from the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry, virtually daring me to take this test. There’s a new drug that could prevent Alzheimer’s if started early enough and they are looking for subjects who might have early signs of the dread disease (now the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a Washington Post article).
The problem is, people don’t want to know if they have “early signs of cognitive and brain dysfunction,” because there’s nothing you can do to stop it anyway. But now there might be. There are more than 100 different studies and trials going on, looking at new drugs, old drugs, diet, exercise, etc.
- Treatment trials to test new treatments or new combinations of treatments;
- Diagnostic studies to find new tests or procedures for diagnosing a disease or condition;
- Prevention trials to investigate ways to prevent the onset of diseases;
- Screening studies to test methods to identify diseases or conditions at the earliest stages;
- Quality of life studies to look at different ways to improve quality of life for individuals who have a chronic illness, their caregivers and family members.
So did I want to know? I sat in front of that damn test for a long time before I started taking it. But finally I dug in.
What makes it so scary is my 91-year-old mother’s ongoing descent into dementia.
The scientists say that there’s “a moderate amount of familial clustering,” for late-onset AD, which is what she’s facing. Thus “a family history of AD among close relatives can elevate one’s risk to 20 percent,” unless it’s early onset, which makes it much higher.
I took a deep breath and started the test. I did just fine, getting all the answers right. Maybe you’d like to try it?