How Effective Is SAGE To Detect Dementia And Alzheimer’s?

Whether you or a family member has been recently diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms. How did you first determine that something just wasn’t quite right? How did doctors determine your condition?

Perhaps you’re on the opposite side of the spectrum — you don’t exactly know what’s wrong, but something is most certainly abnormal. If you suspect that you or a loved one are suffering from the early stages of dementia, it’s critical that you seek professional assistance. The sooner you intervene in terms of treatment, the better.

What Is Sage?

Although Alzheimer’s and dementia lead to a range of symptoms, the most common and most damaging is memory loss. Within the early stages, you may become confused, forgetting where you are for a brief moment in time — even when you’re in a familiar location. In order to help patients determine whether or not they’re at significant risk, the SAGE test was invented.
Standing for Self-Administered Geocognitive Examination, SAGE is a memory test that helps as many as four out of five individuals detect the possibility of dementia. When taking this test, you will be able to detect early warning signs regarding cognition, memory, and overall thinking. If impairments exist, this test will help you determine your current level of functioning.

How Do I Take the Sage Test?

In order to take this test, you do not need any fancy equipment — simply a pen and paper will do. Although four forms of the SAGE test exist, you only need to take one. It does not matter which one you choose, as they are all interchangeable. All you need to do is download the test, print it, and then complete it.

The average completion time is approximately 10 to 15 minutes, but there is no time limit — so don’t worry about the clock. When you’re finished, you can then take the completed test to your physician, where they will address your score and explain to you what those results mean.

Depending on the strength of your score, your doctor may want to follow up with additional testing. That way, they can see if any key changes occur or if your condition is progressive in nature. Remember, just because you score poorly, does not mean that you have dementia or Alzheimer’s.
There are many conditions that can lead to related symptoms, many which are treatable. This is why the SAGE test is so beneficial — it can provide you clues to your level of cognitive impairment and from there, further testing can be done in order to determine what the potential cause may be.

How Effective Is the SAGE Test?

As mentioned, the SAGE test is highly effective when it comes to determining cognitive impairment. Above, I mentioned that it allows as many as four out of five people to possibly detect dementia. This is because the SAGE test does not diagnose any one specific condition — it simply detects overall impairment.

Whether you are suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s or have had a mini stroke, you may suffer from similar symptoms. The SAGE test will only detect those impairments — not what’s causing them. Although it will not technically diagnose dementia or Alzheimer’s, the SAGE test will let you know if further medical evaluation is necessary.

Within one study, published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, researchers visited 45 community events where they asked individuals to complete the SAGE test. Of the 1047 people who took the test, 28 percent were found to have some form of cognitive impairment.

Researchers concluded that this test is an effective resource for at-home testing, helping individuals catch early warning signs.  The earlier cognitive changes are determined, the earlier treatment can begin. Where it is effective in terms of Alzheimer’s, is that it provides a baseline for physicians.

Over time, they can document changes that may lead to more effective, targeted interventions. Since the test is so easy to administer, it’s a great way to rapidly screen large population within the community at the same time. Participants are tested on orientation, language, reasoning, computation, visuospatial, executive and memory abilities.  

Since 95 percent of individuals without any issues will achieve normal SAGE scores, it’s generally a reliable resource. If you miss six or more points on the 22-point test, these usually warrants a follow-up appointment with your physician. This can help individuals who do not even realize that they’re suffering from the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s.

Since treatment is most effective when started in the earliest stage, the SAGE test will help prevent individuals from waiting 3-4 years until they seek treatment — as many do not seek medical assistance until symptoms are apparent, affecting day-to-day functioning.

If you have any concerns or would simply like to try the SAGE test for yourself, download a copy here. If you’re a physician, you can also determine how to administer the test and interpret the results here. Don’t wait until significant changes occur — take proactive measures, protecting your cognitive skills and abilities today.




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Krista Hillis has a B.A.Sc degree, specializing in neuroscience and psychology. She is actively involved in the mental health and caregiving community, aiming to help others. Krista is also passionate about nutrition and the ways in which lifestyle choices affect and influence the human brain.

Comments (3)
    1. Krista Hillis

      You can download and print a copy of the SAGE test online. However, if you would like to complete the e-version of this test, please download the BrainTest app. You may take a closer look here:

    2. Krista Hillis

      The BrainTest app is an online version of the SAGE test. You may learn about the science behind BrainTest here:

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