Computerised test that can help detect memory problems in older people

Ageing can cause many fears in people, but perhaps one of the biggest is fear of losing your memory.

It is a fact of life that as you get older, your memory does decline, according to Dr Nancy Pachana from The University of Queensland, Australia

Dr Pachana and researchers from the School of Psychology and the Key Centre for Human Factors have developed a computerised test that can help detect memory problems in older people.

They are seeking people over the age of 60 to have their memory tested, to assist with the refinement of the memory testing program.

Anyone who is concerned about their memory, or forgets things occasionally, is eligible to participate. Participants will get a detailed “Memory Assistance Tipsheet” upon completing the testing, which gives valuable strategies for helping with everyday memory situations.

“A lot of people when they get older, think that forgetting things means they are developing Alzheimer’s. However, this is not necessarily the case. In many instances we can offer memory maximising strategies that can help improve a persons’ ability to remember what they need to remember,” Dr Pachana said.

The test will not diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease or other serious conditions, but can indicate a potential memory problem and if further testing is required.

The assessment involves a half-hour test where the participant is asked to recall a series of words listed on the computer. Results are automatic and the computer is able to compare scores over time to determine whether changes in memory are abnormal.

Dr Pachana said that in the future, General Practitioners would be able to use the test to aid them in diagnosing serious memory conditions.

“Currently most GPs use a paper and pencil test to detect memory problems; however the computerised test will be more accurate over time,”she said.

Participants can either undergo the test at UQ’s St Lucia campus, at a Toowoomba satellite testing centre, or researchers are able to conduct testing in the participant’s homes if they cannot make it to the University.

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