Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating and terrifying disease; not only for the people who have it, but for their loved ones as well. What makes Alzheimer’s so terrible is the fact that it seems so sudden. One day grandma is lucid, the next she can’t remember her own grandchildren, her spouse, or even her own name. Alzheimer’s doesn’t just destroy memory, it destroys the sense of self.
The truth is that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s can be present years before the full onset of the disease. Alzheimer symptoms can start with seemingly minor memory lapses, or more difficulty understanding simple instructions--all of which you may chalk up to exhaustion or a busy schedule.
Early Detection of Alzheimer's Disease
If doctors can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease early enough, they can use treatments that actually slow its progression. To this end, there are several cognitive tests that you can take, at home or online, that are designed to detect Alzheimer’s early. If your results indicate Alzheimer's, you can take your test information to your doctor and discuss early intervention to delay or halt the progression of the disease.
How Alzheimer Home Tests Work
These tests ask you a series of questions designed to test your memory and other cognitive functions. The first time you take the test, it establishes what is called a baseline, which is essentially a snapshot of where your brain function is now. This baseline test can tell you if your cognitive function is where it should be for your age, or if there are signs of cognitive decline.
Once you establish a baseline, you can take periodic tests to track your cognitive function over time. If your test scores stay roughly the same, there is no need for medical intervention, but you should continue taking periodic tests as you age. If your test scores improve, it means your cognitive function is improving (perhaps you have been making suggested lifestyle changes to improve brain function); if they drop, it means they are declining.
But, does a declining score mean it's time for you to share your test results with your doctor?
What Home Tests for Alzheimer's Can Detect
The first thing you should realize is that these tests do not detect Alzheimer’s disease. What they do detect is possible cognitive decline. The reason you need to understand this difference is because Alzheimer’s is just one type of cognitive dysfunction. There are several medications and illnesses that can also affect your memory and other cognitive functions, and a home cognitive function test does not necessarily differentiate between them.
The sole purpose of the test is to make you aware of any cognitive problems early enough so that you can get the help you need. They are not really designed to diagnose any specific type or cause of the cognitive decline.
What to Do with Your Test Results
First off, if the test shows a decline in cognitive function, don’t panic. As we have stated above, cognitive decline does not automatically mean you have Alzheimer’s disease. Also, these tests provide a general assessment of your cognitive function. Additionally, even something like the time of day at which you take the test can make a difference.
If you are concerned about your memory and cognitive function, you could use one or more online or home-based self-tests for cognitive function as a first screening step.
If you get lower scores (or declining scores) for cognitive function, your second step would be to consult with your physician. Your doctor can conduct a series of cognitive and laboratory tests to help determine if you truly have cognitive decline, and if it may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. He or she can also determine if it indicates another form of dementia, or if your cognitive symptoms may indicate something else altogether.
For example, diabetes, thyroid disease, and autoimmune diseases can all cause cognitive impairment. Certain medications, specifically those that block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, can also impair cognitive function.
If you wish to take one of these “Alzheimer” self-tests, you should understand that they can be a valuable tool for establishing a general baseline of cognitive function over time. Your test results can be a good reference point for opening a dialogue with your doctor about your health concerns so that you can seek early treatment, if needed.
To explore a couple of the online tests available for home-based testing of your cognitive function, you might try: