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Thursday, February 28, 2013

SAGE and SLUMS. Take These Dementia Screening Tests Free Today!

OH! They were actually kinda fun.
I highly recommend these 2 tests - the SAGE and the SLUMS. I have taken them both, and they actually were able to identify some cognitive impairment in me. Having bvFTD, I am able to perform in the normal range on most of the tests used to diagnose Alzheimer's. Most people with bvFTD have no difficulty drawing a clock! If you have Alzheimer's drawing a clock is an issue. Many of the people diagnosed with bvFTD who have contacted me through my blog have also performed at or near normal on many of the tests given in a typical neuropsychological exam. Some are profoundly impaired, as I am, but still perform well on the standard tests.

Both the SAGE and SLUMS tests and instructions are available for download free from the following websites. The links to access them are provided below.

SAGE test (Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE))

SLUMS test (Saint Louis University Mental Status Examination (SLUMS))


SAGE is a brief self-administered cognitive screening instrument to identify Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and early dementia. Average time to complete the test is 10 to 15 minutes. The total possible points are 22.
Administration:

The SAGE test is self-administered. There are four forms of the SAGE test. Only one test form should be given. It does not matter which form is taken, as they are all interchangeable. SAGE should be filled out in ink without the assistance of others. Inform the examinee that there are four pages to complete. Calendars and clocks should not be available during the testing. Do not answer specific questions. Just say, "Do the best that you can."

If you decide to self administer, or administer this test for someone you know, you should understand this is an assessment tool and that you are not receiving an official diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's, or any one of the eight types of dementia.

If you find the test results suspicious, you should contact your doctor immediately, and ask for a neurological or geriatric consult. These specialists can determine, through a series of tests, whether or not you are suffering from or headed for Alzheimer's disease, or that you have nothing to worry about at this time.

Spoiler alert! Go take the test now before reading any further.

SAGE test (Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE))

SLUMS test (Saint Louis University Mental Status Examination (SLUMS))



I suggest you take the tests before continuing. I am going to write about some of my specific results which may give away some of the answers.

I self-administered the SAGE test. Most of it seemed very easy, and only took a few minutes. My test was scored by a friend, and that is the best way to do it. I would have scored myself higher because I knew what I meant to do. She saw what I actually did. This is an important distinction on a couple of the answers.

One of the questions on the form of the test I took (Form 1) was to copy a figure of a cube. I thought I did just fine, but she correctly docked me a couple points because my lines were not parallel. I thought she was just being picky, but the instructions clearly state she was correct in her scoring.

The test failed to identify the difficulty I had in figuring out the simple arithmetic problems presented. I had to resort to writing the problems in the margin, doing the necessary subtraction with great difficulty, and then again with great difficulty checking my answer before answering the test question. Only a few years ago these problems would have been simple to do entirely in my head without writing anything down. So, though I arrived at the correct answer, and so got the full number of points in the scoring, the test did identify a deficit. The issue was with the methodology, and not the actual test. I do not give myself full credit for getting the correct answer because of the antics I had to use to arrive at it.

Another question has you connect numbers alternating with letters in their proper order. I can do this just fine. I scored the full points. Part of my original neuropsychological exam included a much longer version of this test, but on that exam the task was timed. Though I was able to complete the task without any errors it took me more than 3 times longer than someone without any deficits. I was told this is a more typical result for someone with bvFTD.

After scoring myself hard on the arithmetic problem I am in the range indicating a mild cognitive impairment. Some days are better than others, and I was lucky that day.

I also took the SLUMS test. A version of this test was featured on The Dr. Oz show. Again I ended up in the range of score indicating mild cognitive impairment. That was mostly because I totally missed every part of the last question. It is a short paragraph to read, and then there are a few questions afterwards. I just didn't retain much of what I read. Again this is a huge change from what I was like only a few years ago. My short-term memory is drastically impaired!

UPDATE - I took the SLUMS test again today (3-27-2015). I guess it has been about 2 years since I took it last.  It was administered by a neurologist at The University Of Toledo Hospital's neurology center. My score was almost identical.  I was unable to do the math, and again messed up the last question. I did not lose points on the clock because I remembered from last time to be very precise in drawing the hands.

I suggest you take these tests, and record your results. Then take them again in a year or even 2 years. The SAGE test is especially good for this because there are 4 different forms of the test. That way you can take it 4 times without repeating the exact same form of the test and influencing your results.

This is a great way to measure your progression. A way to keep track of where you are, and how you are doing. It may even be a better way to measure how effective a drug treatment is. I wonder if I would score as well if I were not taking Namenda, Aricept, and Ritilin... probably not!

I want to repeat the cautions one more time because people with bvFTD are often stubborn, and ignore such things. I know this from personal experience. If you decide to self administer, or administer this test for someone you know, you should understand this is an assessment tool and that you are not receiving an official diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's, or any one of the eight types of dementia.

If you find the test results suspicious, you should contact your doctor immediately, and ask for a neurological or geriatric consult. These specialists can determine, through a series of tests, whether or not you are suffering from or headed for Alzheimer's disease, or that you have nothing to worry about at this time.

Comments are welcome.

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