There are several online tests available to help families understand if a loved is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or a related dementia. To be clear, these tests are not designed to give a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. To receive a formal diagnosis, several medical experts are required as well as expensive medical technology and procedures such as brain scans and spinal fluid extractions. Neither of which are pleasant experiences for a loved one whom you suspect may have Alzheimer’s. Instead, online tests for Alzheimer’s are designed and intended to give a family enough information to know whether they should pursue a professional, medical opinion.
A certain degree of forgetfulness is common to most aging individuals. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is a condition which is more severe than normal memory decline associated with aging, but not so severe as Alzheimer’s. Online tests for dementia / Alzheimer’s should be adequate to help families distinguish between these conditions.
Before we discuss the various options available to self-administer an Alzheimer’s test on the Internet, some words of caution are advised.
The following tests have been selected specifically to allow non-professionals to administer and interpret the results of the test. Some of these may be more complex for the administrator than others but none are so complicated that they cannot be managed by a normal, adult, English speaker.
The SAGE Test
SAGE is an abbreviation for the Self-Administered Geocognitive Examination and while it is not exactly self-administered it does not require a doctor. This the gold standard of Alzheimer’s tests on the Internet. It was developed by the Department of Neurology at Ohio State University. Again, it will not result in a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s but is found to be 80% effective at identifying persons with memory challenges. The test itself is meant to be downloaded, printed and self-administered. The results are meant to be interpreted by a medical professional. However, the scoring instructions are also available online and they are not especially challenging. A non-professional adult can understand and easily score the results of the test. In short, a family member can give this test to their loved one and accurately understand the results of the test without a medical professional. What happens after the test, should the test taker be found to have memory challenges, does require a medical professional. The SAGE test takes approximately 10-20 minutes to complete. The scoring process takes only 5-10 minutes.
The Mini-Cog differs slightly from the SAGE Test in that a test administrator is required and plays an active role. However, only about 5 minutes of time are required to administer the test and only one minute is needed to score the test and interpret the results. The test administration role is not challenging and any healthy adult can serve in that role. No medical training is required. The results do not diagnosis dementia, but permit the administrator to know if further action is necessary. One can download the test at the link below. It is important that only the administrator view this document, not the test taker.
Neurotrack is a different sort of test in that it does not measure mental acuity compared to the greater population. Instead it takes a snapshot of one’s mental acuity and allows one to track any progression over time. Most relevantly, one can see a decline over time if they are suffering from MCI, Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Another way the test differs is instead of written acuity challenges, the system tracks acuity through eye motion tracked using a computer’s webcam. Some persons prefer this more passive approach and others have difficulty accepting the test as valid. In either case, Neurotrack may be best used in combination with one of the other tests described above. At the time of writing, this test was free but an email address was required.
Aside from online tests, it is worth mentioning both blood tests and genetic tests. Currently, a definitive blood test does not exist for the US market. Genetic testing does exist but does not provide a definitive answer as to whether someone has Alzheimer’s or dementia. Instead, genetic tests are helpful in telling individuals if they have the propensity to develop a dementia based on their genetic makeup. A medical evaluation from a doctor (or more likely several doctors) is currently the only way for an individual to receive an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis. Read more about blood tests, genetic tests and the process of receiving a medical diagnosis.