Alzheimer's Detection by Near and Dear

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 30 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say family and friends detect Alzheimer’s signs sooner than memory tests do.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis tested a 2-minute Ascertain Dementia 8 questionnaire, in which a family member or close friend — the informant — indicates whether the patient has problems with thinking, memory and judgment. Informants watch for indications of bad financial decisions, trouble handling complicated matters such as balancing a checkbook, losing interest in activities, repeating questions and stories, problems using tools such as a remote control or forgetting the month or year.

The study, published in the journal Brain, validated the questionnaire by finding it could highlight individuals who had Alzheimer’s disease biological indicators known as biomarkers — such as abnormal levels of certain factors in the spinal fluid or positive brain scans for Alzheimer’s plaques — more consistently than traditional cognitive tests.

“It’s not economically feasible to screen everyone for Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers,” Dr. John Morris says in a statement. “The AD8 gives us a brief and very low-cost alternative that takes a few minutes of the informant’s time to screen for dementia and thus identify those individuals who need follow-up evaluations to determine if there truly are signs of Alzheimer’s.”

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