If you can’t remember where you put your keys, is that just a senior moment or a sign of dementia?
Until recently, it was difficult to tell the difference—even for doctors. But now, one of the country’s most prominent neuroscientists has developed a quick, 10-question quiz that can help determine if you have signs of dementia.
And this test—called the Quick Dementia Rating System (QDRS)—takes less than five minutes to complete.
Even better, a new study of 237 people with and without dementia shows the QDRS is so accurate, it’s comparable to the “gold standard” dementia screenings doctors currently use.1
The easy way to take control of your own brain health
If you’ve ever been tested for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, you know it’s a long and laborious process. That’s because there’s no “one-size-fits-all” method of determining dementia.
A doctor will probably start with a physical exam followed by a neurological exam. You might also get a brain-imaging scan for good measure, and a mood assessment.
Then it’s on to the mental tests. You’ll likely be subjected to the Mini-mental State Exam (MMSE). Some of the questions are easy, like what month it is, and some really give your brain a workout—like counting backwards from 100 by sevens.
There are also other mental tests your doctor can give you, including ones developed by Dr. James Galvin of Florida Atlantic University—the same doctor who created the QDRS test.
The whole process can take as long as four or five hours, and is grueling for both the doctor and the patient. And, Galvin points out, some people with dementia don’t even get these types of tests from their doctors, or they’re tested by clinicians who don’t really know what they’re doing.
That’s why he developed the QDRS test. The QDRS is actually designed to be answered by a spouse, close friend, family member, or caregiver. Someone who knows you very well and would recognize any recent, significant changes in your behaviors. It includes 10 questions that the person taking the test will answer about your memory and recall, orientation, decision making and problem solving, communication skills, mood, attention and concentration, behavior and personality changes, how well you function inside and outside your home, and your level of personal hygiene.
Scores range from 0 to 30 with higher scores indicating greater cognitive impairment.
Along with giving you and your loved ones peace of mind, Galvin says the QDRS test is designed to evaluate dementia in its earliest stages. The sooner you know you might have dementia or other cognitive impairment, the faster you can get treatment.
You can download the QDRS test (and complete information on scoring) from the Florida Atlantic University website (http://med.fau.edu/). Just enter “QDRS test” into the search function at the top of the page.
And, as always, make sure to work closely with a physician to go over your results and determine the best course of action for your particular needs.
1“The Quick Dementia Rating System (QDRS): A rapid dementia staging tool.” Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2015 Jun 1;1(2):249-259.