A New Tool Identifies Older Adults at Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

A senior male is sitting with a female doctor who is showing him something on a tablet

Award Date: 2018

Project Lead(s): Linda Mah, Clinician Scientist

Project Title: Validation of a subjective memory assessment tool (SuMA) to identify older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s disease

What is the issue?

People who think they may be losing their memory and ability to think well, but do not have cognitive health issues that doctors can identifyhave a condition called subjective cognitive decline. It is associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It is difficult for doctors to tell which individuals have subjective cognitive decline or regular age-related memory issues  

What did we do?

We developed a subjective memory assessment tool. It consists of ten brief questions about remembering things in everyday situations. We used it to evaluate 274 older adults who had already been tested using the standard toolthe Montreal Cognitive Assessment, and we compared results. We also tested 150 individuals with a full battery of other brain health tests, including aimaging scan 

What did we find?

Results with our tool were most similar to the Montreal Cognitive Assessment in these areas: the number of times having trouble remembering faces, not remembering the beginning of a magazine or newspaper story when reading the ending, and not recalling personal dates like birthdaysResults with our tool were also linked to shrinkage in an area of the brain called the hippocampus, which is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.