Skip to content

    Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

    Font Size

    Senior Moment or Something Worse? Yes/No Test May Tell

    Test Can Help Identify People at High Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

    Feb. 3, 2012 -- When are “senior moments” just a normal part of healthy aging, and when are they a sign of something more serious such as Alzheimer’s disease?

    This is the million dollar question, and the Alzheimer’s Questionnaire, a set of 21 yes or no questions that can be answered by a loved one or caregiver, may help answer it.

    The 21 questions fall into five categories including memory, orientation, ability to function, visuospatial ability, and language. A score of 15 or higher suggests Alzheimer’s disease, while a score between five and 14 suggests mild cognitive impairment (MCI) -- a form of early memory loss that may progress to Alzheimer’s. Scores of four or lower suggest the memory is working just fine.

    More work is needed to confirm just how useful this screening tool may be, but the new study shows that it can help identify people with MCI rather adeptly. The findings appear in BMC Geriatrics.

    Yeses to certain questions count more than others, as they are known to be more strongly predictive of Alzheimer’s disease. These include trouble with date and time, difficulty managing money, and a decreased sense of direction.

    Key Questions

    Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Symptoms include serious memory loss, confusion, and mood changes that develop gradually and worsen with time. People with MCI are at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s, but not all people with MCI do.

    Sample questions include:

    • Does the patient repeat questions, statements, or stories in the same day?
    • Does the patient suspect others of moving, hiding, or stealing items when he or she can’t find them?
    • Is the patient having trouble using appliances?
    • Does the patient become disoriented in unfamiliar places?
    • Does the patient have difficulty recognizing people who are familiar to him or her?

    Researchers from the Banner Sun Health Research Institute in Sun City, Ariz., tested the new questionnaire on 47 people with MCI who were being treated by a neurologist, and on 51 people who had no known memory problems. People with MCI tended to repeat questions and statements, had trouble knowing the date or time, difficulties managing their finances, and a decreased sense of direction more often than those without  memory problems, the study shows.

    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
    Human brain graphic
    mature woman
    Woman comforting ailing mother
    Senior woman with serious expression