Dementia is a complex and devastating condition that affects nearly a million people in the UK. It can be difficult to diagnose, and early detection is crucial for effective management and treatment. As technology advances, more and more online dementia tests are becoming available. However, the question remains: can these tests be trusted? In this article, we will explore how to do a dementia test online and the different types, their benefits and limitations, and whether they are trustworthy. We will also examine the importance of accurate diagnosis and the potential risks of relying solely on online tests.

What is a Dementia Test Online?

Online dementia tests are assessments designed to help individuals or healthcare professionals screen for cognitive impairment, memory loss, and other symptoms associated with dementia. These tests are typically available on various websites and can be completed from the comfort of your own home using a computer or mobile device.

Some online dementia tests involve answering a series of questions about memory, language, and problem-solving skills, while others require you to perform specific tasks or games that measure your cognitive abilities. These tests may also include a self-assessment questionnaire or a cognitive screening tool that can provide an indication of your cognitive health. They can be done together with loved ones for support.

It is important to note that online dementia tests are not a substitute for a medical diagnosis from a qualified healthcare professional. They can, however, be a useful tool for identifying potential cognitive impairment and prompting further evaluation by a doctor. There is no cure for dementia, but accurate diagnosis enables appropriate treatment and support.

Be Savvy When You Use a Dementia Test Online

Online tests for dementia can be a valuable resource for families who are concerned about their loved one's cognitive health. These tests are designed to provide an initial indication of potential cognitive impairment and may help families determine whether they should seek a professional medical opinion. However, it is important to note that online tests cannot provide a formal diagnosis of dementia.

It is important to exercise caution when considering online tests for dementia. Firstly, no online test can definitively diagnose dementia. As such, if there are concerns, we still highly recommend GP support. Secondly, there are many free tests available online that have been produced by reputable medical institutions and non-profit organisations. It is recommended that families use these resources rather than paying for an online test. Paid tests advertised online are often scams and may not be valid.

Lastly, some online tests may appear to be tests but are actually advertisements for brain-training products or services. These tests may still be valid, but users should be aware that the provider is attempting to sell a product or service. It is essential to research the provider and understand their intentions before taking any online dementia test.

Remember, older people are especially vulnerable to scams, so it’s always best to directly support them when using a dementia test online.

Different Types of Online Dementia Tests

There are various different types of dementia test available online. Broadly they include:

1Self-Assessment Questionnaires
These are questionnaires designed to assess an individual's cognitive abilities and memory. They are typically designed for use by individuals who are concerned about their own cognitive health or by family members who are concerned about a loved one. Self-assessment questionnaires may include questions about an individual's memory, problem-solving abilities, and language skills. A modified Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) test can be completed by loved ones, without the patient present, and takes just a few minutes. It can be a useful indicated as to whether more help and assessment is needed.
2Cognitive Screening Tests
These tests are used to assess an individual's cognitive abilities, including memory, language, and problem-solving skills. They are typically used by healthcare professionals to screen for cognitive impairment in patients, but some are available online. Cognitive screening tests may include tasks such as recalling a list of words, performing simple calculations, or identifying objects from pictures. The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE test) can be done with a loved one online and is widely considered to be the most reliable online dementia test as a precursor to seeing a doctor. You need to print off the test sheets and it will take around 15-20 minutes to complete. The Mini-Cog is another dementia test online that loved ones can do with the relative they are concerned about and it takes just a few minutes. A very simple test you can do is the Alzheimer’s Clock Test that involves getting your loved one to draw an analogue clock set at a certain time. There is a great deal of information about how to score this and it can be a useful precursor to seeking additional diagnosis. The Clock Test is often used within formal diagnosis in memory clinic. You can also get at-home online versions of the Mini Mental State Exam, which is used by healthcare practitioners to formally assess dementia.
3Brain Training Programmes
These are programmes designed to help individuals improve their cognitive abilities, memory, and problem-solving skills. Brain training programmes typically include a series of games and puzzles that are designed to challenge an individual's cognitive abilities. Some brain training programmes are available for free online, while others require a fee to access. Using them can give some idea of cognitive decline.
4Video-Based Tests
These tests use video and audio cues to assess an individual's cognitive abilities. Video-based tests may include tasks such as identifying objects or recalling information presented in a video. They are typically designed to be completed in a short amount of time and may be used as a screening tool for cognitive impairment. They may also involve interaction with a trained healthcare dementia specialist.
5Virtual Reality Tests
These tests use virtual reality technology to assess an individual's cognitive abilities. Virtual reality tests may include tasks such as navigating a virtual environment, solving puzzles, or identifying objects. They are typically used as a more engaging and immersive way to assess an individual's cognitive abilities.
6Mobile Apps
There are a variety of mobile apps available that are designed to assess an individual's cognitive abilities. These apps may include games and puzzles that are designed to challenge an individual's memory, problem-solving skills, and language abilities. Some mobile apps are designed for use by healthcare professionals, while others are designed for use by individuals who are concerned about their own cognitive health.

How to Get a Dementia Diagnosis

While a dementia test online can give some indication of whether a loved one is suffering from dementia symptoms, they aren’t perfect or always accurate. Just because someone ‘passes’ a test, it does not guarantee that they aren’t experiencing dementia symptoms. Similarly, if someone is flagged as possibly having dementia by an online test, it doesn’t formally diagnose them, or provide any guidance or support. It’s important to visit the GP who will refer to a memory clinic, where formal memory tests will be completed to determine an accurate diagnosis.

At Eastleigh Care Homes, as expert providers of dementia care, we understand the temptation to use a dementia test online and they may add some impetus to seek diagnosis, or offer peace of mind. However, we also strongly encourage families that are concerned a loved one has dementia to seek the support and advice of their GP.

There is no single test, online or even at the doctor's office, that can accurately determine whether you have dementia or not. The diagnosis of dementia is indeed a complex process.