The SAGE Test: Detect Early Signs of Dementia with This Quick 15-minute Test

Kiera Powell, R.N.

Verified by Kiera Powell, R.N. and written by Sophie Bebeau on Wed Mar 13 2024.

Medically Verified

The SAGE Test: Detect Early Signs of Dementia with This Quick 15-minute Test

It's normal to experience some decline in memory as you age, but if you are concerned that your memory loss or the memory loss of a loved one could be pointing to something more serious, it's time to take the SAGE test.

Test for early signs of dementia with the SAGE test

The SAGE test stands for Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam. It is a quick and easy at-home test that can detect early signs of Alzheimer's or dementia by testing cognitive abilities which are the skills our brain uses to process and understand information. 

The SAGE test is completely free and only takes about 15 minutes to complete. 

How the SAGE test for dementia works

Designed by researchers at Ohio State in 2010, the SAGE test is widely used as a helpful tool to assess cognition and detect early Alzheimer's and dementia. 

The SAGE test is 12 questions that cover several facets of cognition, including:

  • memory

  • judgment

  • problem-solving

  • language

  • visual/spatial

The types of questions you can expect to see on the SAGE test range across several areas of cognitive function. The test taker will answer questions like, "How many quarters are in $2.75?" and "How are a rose and a tulip similar?" Visual prompts are also included on the test, like "Draw a large face of a clock and place in the numbers" and "Name the following pictures" activities.

You can find four unique versions of the test on the Ohio State website. This allows you to take the test multiple times over a few years with accurate results. There is no time limit, but the SAGE test commonly only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. Remember, the test taker must take the test without assistance.

Steps for downloading the SAGE test

  1. Download the SAGE test on the Ohio State University website by clicking "Download the test."

  2. Click the "Download the SAGE test" button in the Terms & Conditions pop-up.

  3. On the next screen, pick from one of the four test forms available. The test can be administered in eight languages (English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Croatian, French, German, and Polish).

  4. After clicking the test you want, a PDF version of the test will download to your device. You can open this test as PDF and print it out.

  5. The test can then be filled out in about 15 minutes.

Bring your SAGE test results to a physician

It can be scary to realize you might have early signs of Alzheimer's or dementia, but once you've completed a SAGE test, it's important to bring your results to a physician who can further assess cognitive abilities. 

Remember, even if your score suggests cognitive decline or brain dysfunction, there are many other disorders besides Alzheimer's or dementia that could cause these symptoms. A physician can further assess your brain function and diagnose other treatable causes.

Even if it is determined you are in the early stages of Alzheimer's or dementia, there are benefits to being diagnosed early. There are many Alzheimer's and dementia treatments available that, when started early, can help manage the disease and delay symptoms.

Take the SAGE test together

It's okay to feel nervous about taking the SAGE test. Any diagnosis of cognitive decline can be alarming. Consider asking a friend or family member to take the test with you. If you're a caregiver or a friend or family member who has concerns about your loved one's cognitive function, offer to complete your own test along with them. This can help them feel supported and more open to discussing the results afterward.

Take the SAGE test today. Download the SAGE test here.

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Get more Alzheimer's and dementia resources from Carewell:

Dementia Care 101: The Diagnosis

Dementia Care 101: Understanding the Stages

5 Tips for Communicating with Someone with Dementia

How to Talk to a Parent With Dementia: 14 Communication Strategies and Tips

Home Safety Matters: Bedroom Safety Tips for People with Alzheimer's and Dementia

Bathroom Safety for Alzheimer's & Dementia

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Sophie Bebeau
Sophie Bebeau

Sophie Bebeau is a writer, graphic designer, poet, and multidisciplinary artist living in Green Bay, Wisconsin. When she’s not writing or making things for the internet, she can be found cross-stitching, writing poetry, and snuggling on the couch with a cup of tea and her husband, son, and dog, Buttercup.