NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 News) – There isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s, but researchers say they can slow the progression if it’s caught early.Unfortunately, studies show most of the nation’s 5-million Alzheimer’s patients waited three to four years before getting help.

Denton county resident Jeff Rushing was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years ago. “I was just lost. Nothing prepared me for anything like that,” says Rushing. But it was Rushing’s wife who first noticed something was wrong. “His decision making skills were not as sharp as they had been,” says Julie Rushing. He had to quit his work and stop driving his car. But what if the disease could have been caught earlier?

Maybe it can.

Researchers at the Ohio State University developed the Self-Administered Gero-cognitive Examination or SAGE. They gave it to more than 1000 patients in 5 years and found that nearly 30 percent showed early signs of cognitive problems. Patients are tested for memory, reasoning and problem solving. Questions could be as simple as… What’s today’s date? How are a watch and a ruler similar? Or, how many nickels in 60 cents?

Doug Dunbar and Karen Borta decided to give it a try. They passed with flying colors. Though the written test can be taken anywhere a doctor does need to evaluate it. So far, doctors are impressed with the test. Says Dr. Mary Quiceno, an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern Medical Center, “It could give you some idea whether there’s a red flag, if further investigation is warranted.” The test picks up 80-percent of the people with mild memory or cognitive issues. Even if there are no warning signs it can start a discussion with a doctor, which experts say is important. Also, the exam can be used as a baseline for later tests.

As for Jeff Rushing, he wishes the test had been around when he was first having problems.Now he’s hoping his experience can help others. “You will make it out, says Rushing, “You might not be what you were, but you’ll be ok.”

Click here to take the SAGE test.

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