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Online puzzle may not indicate Alzheimer's

4:54 PM, Jan 22, 2014   |    comments
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KUSA - There is a test making the internet rounds touting itself as a way to find out if you're at risk for Alzheimer's disease or not. The problem is that this test isn't accurate and may give people a false sense of security. The test is known as a "moving puzzle" test. The email being sent around the world contains the subject line "Try This Moving Puzzle, Alzheimer's?".

The body of the email goes on to say "Don't know if this is true but it's a fun puzzle. If you can put this puzzle together. You can say goodbye to Alzheimer's!" and provides a link to the puzzle. But the main issue is that this test, and others like it, can't tell you with any certainty that you are not at risk for Alzheimer's. As a matter of fact, the Alzheimer's Association last year convened a panel of experts to look at 16 online tests to determine how accurate they were at determining whether someone was at risk for Alzheimer's. They found the majority of tests, 12 out of 16, "are not useful for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease."

The concern is that someone might use these tests alone to determine their risk for Alzheimer's. And if they pass the test they might not follow up to make sure they aren't developing symptoms that would lead to further and better tests. With Alzheimer's the earlier diagnosis is made the sooner treatment can start. Early treatment can help slow down this disease and allow a better opportunity to function well enough to carry on the daily tasks we all need to do every day.

The national and local chapters of the Alzheimer's Association warn that these tests are not accurate at determining whether someone is at risk for Alzheimer's. One online test they feel is a good starting point is the SAGE (Self Administered Gerocognitive Examination) test developed by Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. This is a 15 minute test that can be taken at home with a simple pen and paper. The idea is to take this test and then go over the results with your doctor. Then you both can determine if more testing is needed. Basically, the SAGE test is a simple screening test only and like all online tests for Alzheimer's it won't give anyone a final answer.

If you'd like to take the test simply go to http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/alzheimers/sage-test/Pages/index.aspx

If you think that a loved one may be showing signs of Alzheimer's or dementia call the Alzheimer's Association at 800 272-3900 for more information and help.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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