Memory loss is a real worry for many in our aging population. A four-page questionnaire may be able to alleviate some of those fears or signal early, subtle signs of dementia.

We need to catch these people much earlier, said Dr. Douglas Scharre, neurologist with Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

Dr. Scharre and colleagues at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center developed a free, online test that measures brain functions like orientation, language, reasoning, problem solving and memory.

In their study of more than a thousand older adults, nearly 30 percent showed signs of early memory problems they didn't know they had.

The progression of memory loss might be slowed by some treatments if detected early enough.

If you do take this test, you need to take it to your physician. It's not a diagnostic test for any particular condition. It just says, hey maybe my thinking is not as good as it used to be, said Dr. Scharre.

But perhaps with practice, it could be. Also out is new evidence from Johns Hopkins that some brain exercises can improve reasoning skills and processing speed.

The mind can stave off cognitive decline as we get older by keeping active, keeping mentally and physically and socially engaged, said Dr. George Rebok with Johns Hopkins University.

Researchers studied nearly 3,000 older adults with normal memory. A decade later, those who went through a series of brain training exercises had less cognitive decline than a control group.

They also had an easier time managing their finances, medications and performing daily activities.

For more information on the four-page Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) test, contact the Ohio State Neurology Department at (614) 293-4969 and request a copy be mailed to you. You can also download the SAGE test at

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