Warning about Home Screening for Alzheimer's - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/17/02

Warning about Home Screening for Alzheimer's

'Early Alert', which costs $17, is marketed now as an early stage test for Alzheimer's Disease. It's based on smell since researchers have determined that smell is one of the faculties that is affected early on in Alzheimer's. In the 'Early Alert' test, if you make 3 mistakes out of 12, you're urged to see a doctor

Researchers at the University of Chicago are studying at home screening tests for Alzheimer's, and they do not recommend 'Early Alert'. Dr. Daniel Brauner, Director of the University of Chicago's geriatric unit, says, "The real problem with this is that a lot of older people will have a loss of smell from other causes besides dementia." By the way, the company that makes the test acknowledges that a failing grade "...does not necessarily mean you have Alzheimer's Disease," but that the test is intended to help encourage people to see a doctor if there's a problem.

The other home test for Alzheimer's being advertised now is a 15-minute series of questions given by a nurse over the telephone. The company that markets that test claims it is 98% effective in finding early signs of cognitive impairment. The Chicago team says a telephone test for Alzheimer's could be skewed by a patient's level of education or nervousness. This test is $95.

The bottom line from the University of Chicago study is that you really need to see a specialist if you're concerned about early signs of Alzheimer's. Likewise, the Alzheimer's Association agrees that screening and diagnosis should be done in person, instead of at home.

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