A 15-minute test you take at home can show up the first signs of mental decline nearly as well as diagnostic exams.
The written test could be used to help catch and treat Alzheimer’s early.
U.S. researchers who developed it say healthy older people would do the test at home and share the results with doctors so they could keep track of their condition.
The test: US researchers say the home-test will be able to chart how healthy older people are progressing
The questions range from simple feats of memory – writing the date, for example – to more complex everyday tasks, such as working out the amount of change needed when shopping.
Other sections are more open-ended, with one asking: ‘How are a corkscrew and a hammer similar? Write down how they are alike.’
More than 1,000 people aged 50 and over were given the test, and the results indicated 28 per cent of them had cognitive impairment, a mild loss of mental function.
That closely matched the results of detailed diagnostic tests on the same group, suggesting the test could be a useful indicator. Researcher Dr Douglas Scharre, director of cognitive neurology at Ohio State University, said that it could lead to dementia being diagnosed earlier.
He said: ‘This self-administered test correlated very well with detailed cognitive testing.