JAN 26, 2016 10:28 AM PST

Assess Your Alzheimer's Risks Online in 10 Minutes

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
Alzheimer’s disease affects a staggering 44 million people worldwide. This number might actually be even greater, as some people with the condition go undiagnosed. But what if you could take a simple questionnaire to assess your risk of developing dementia? If a 10-minute test could reveal your likelihood for dementia, wouldn’t you like to find out?
 
Memory survey calculates your risk for Alzheimer's

The Dementia Risk Assessment, available at Alzcast.org, is a free online self-assessment tool that evaluates your risk of developing dementia. The assessment itself contains a short memory survey with simple word pairs, followed by a brief questionnaire about your health, lifestyle, and medical history. The assessment can also be taken for a friend or relative for whom you have concerns. Importantly, all answers and reports are completely anonymous.
 
“If we can identify people who have Alzheimer’s brewing before they have symptoms, we can treat the disease sooner,” says Jason Brandt, director of the Division of Medical Psychology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and creator of the assessment. “If we could delay the onset of symptoms by five years, we could reduce the number of people with Alzheimer’s by half.”
 
After completing the assessment, you will receive immediate feedback on you performance and risks for dementia. This includes a comparison of how well you scored on the memory survey relative to other people of the same sex and age. Based on this and answers to the health and lifestyle questions, the report also calculates your likelihood of developing dementia. And finally, the report also adds some personalized suggestions for you on maintaining overall brain health.
 
Will this test give the definitive diagnosis for Alzheimer’s risk? Absolutely not. Nor was it designed to do so. Far from replacing clinical exams and actual patient-doctor contact, the tool is intended to support and facilitate the tough conversations about mental health. With the self-assessed reports in hand, high-risk patients can follow up with their clinicians and determine the appropriate next steps for therapy, and possibly prevention.
 
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. While there are no cures as of yet, early detection and diagnosis of this disease can significantly influence treatments and how the disease progresses for some patients. Thus, knowing can make a huge difference. 
 

Additional source: Johns Hopkins Medicine press release 
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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