Dementia scale shows early success

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A new questionnaire that focuses on the everyday functions of the elderly and those with memory problems eventually could help with screening for dementia, according to a report in July's issue of the journal Neuropsychology.

The scale is called the Everyday Cognition, or ECog, for short. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, asked the friends and loved ones of 576 elderly people to fill out the ECog, noting that those closest to the subjects were best suited to evaluate their day-to-day ability to function. About half the subjects had full onset dementia, while the other half had moderate to no memory issues. Researchers in conjunction with nurses, neurologists and healthcare workers who deal with dementia patients developed the instrument.

Results from the ECog backed up much of the data collected from established tests, researchers noted. They were also specific enough to differentiate between people with normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Researchers hope that this sensitivity will allow them to better screen seniors for susceptibility to dementia. They also hope the ECog will better allow them to observe how cognitive disabilities develop over time.