Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Friends and family better than tests at spotting Alzheimer's

Researchers devote a lot of time to developing screening tests for Alzheimer's disease but a new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis suggests that it might actually be more effective to ask people's friends and families. The researchers developed an eight-point questionnaire called Ascertain Dementia 8 (AD8) asking friends and relatives whether people were displaying the following symptoms
  • 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 chequebook
  • Difficulty remembering appointments
  • Consistent problems with thinking and memory
They gave the questionnaire to the friends and relatives of 251 participants and the participants themselves filled out the Mini Mental State test, a traditional dementia-screening tool. The researchers then evaluated biological signs of dementia in the participants designed to see definitively whether they had the condition. The AD8 test actually tallied more closely with the biological diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

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