A quick test that tells if your loved one is at risk of Alzheimer’s disease has been devised by doctors.
The 21-question test distinguishes between normal absent-mindedness and the more sinister memory lapses that may signal the early stages of dementia.
The questions are designed to be answered by a spouse or close friend.
Up to 15 per cent of people with MCI develop Alzheimer’s within the next year.
The lack of a cure for dementia means that some may not want to take the test, which was devised by Banner Sun Health Research Institute in Arizona, which specialises in the disease.
Some questions, including one about making the same statements over the course of a day, known as repetitiveness, were found to be particularly valuable.
The 21 questions are answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. A ‘yes’ is given a score of one or two and a ‘no’ always scores zero, giving a maximum possible score of 27.
Someone who scores under five is advised that there is no cause for concern. A score of five to 14 suggests mild cognitive impairment – or memory lapses that could be the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Any higher than this and the person may already have it. Writing in the journal BMC Geriatrics researcher Michael Malek-Ahmadi said: ‘As the population ages, the need for a quick method of spotting the disease early will grow.’
Mr Malek-Ahmadi stressed that it is up to GPs rather than patients to interpret the results of the test. That said, anyone who scores five or above should seek expert help.