Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

New Screening Tool for Dementia

Checklist Gauges Ability of Older Adults to Perform Everyday Tasks
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 2, 2008 -- Grandma seldom forgets where she puts her keys. Check.

She can still whip up her favorite dish while regaling you about Uncle Joe's latest escapades. Check.

She always knows where her car is parked, and might even point out where yours is, too. Check.

Answering basic questions that track an older adult's ability to perform everyday tasks may help doctors detect the early warning signs of dementia. However, until now methods to assess everyday function have been limited.

Now researchers have developed a quick and easy screening tool called Everyday Cognition (ECog), which can reveal changes in older adults' basic mental abilities over time when filled out by someone who is close to them. For example, an adult child may answer questions about a parent or spouses may answer questions about each other.

Sarah Tomaszewski Farias, PhD, of the University of California, Davis, and colleagues came up with a new questionnaire after evaluating data on 576 adults about 77 years old and interviewing health care professionals who worked with people with dementia. The idea for ECog stemmed in part from a concept that suggests one could measure different areas of everyday function by matching specific tasks to particular cognitive abilities.

The team identified seven key cognitive areas: memory, language, factual knowledge (semantics), visuo-spatial abilities, planning, organization, and divided attention, and eventually came up with 39 questions.

How the Checklist Works

The checklist asks reliable informants -- people who lived with or know the older adult well -- to compare an adult's current ability to perform specific tasks to 10 years ago. Is the older adult's ability better, questionable, a little worse, or much worse?

For example:

"Compared to 10 years ago, has there been any change in ..."

  • Remembering where she/he has placed objects
  • Forgetting the names of objects
  • Remembering the meaning of common words
  • Following a map to find a new location
  • Finding his/her way around a familiar neighborhood
  • Planning the sequence of stops on a shopping trip
  • Keeping living and work space organized
  • Keeping financial records organized
  • Cooking or working and talking at the same time

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression