Until recently, you needed to visit a clinician to obtain an “official” dementia diagnosis. These “gold standard” screening tests often took hours to complete, and at times they could take multiple visits. There were other options that folks could administer at home, but often times those tests would lead to a sub-optimal diagnosis.
Meet Dr. James E. Galvin. Dr. Galvin is a leading neuroscientist, and a professor of clinical biomedical science at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Galvin recently developed a new dementia test that is administered at home, and only takes 5 minutes to complete. The test is called the Quick Dementia Rating System (QDRS) and it can be administered by a family member or by a caregiver. The QDRS can also be self-administered, but if dementia symptoms are advanced it's much better administered with the assistance of a loved one.
The QDRS is a 10 part “questionnaire” that covers 10 key areas of brain health such as memory, problem-solving, mood, and language. Scores range from zero (0) for a cognitively normal person up to thirty (30) which denotes severe impairment.
The Senior List reached out to Dr. Galvin to ask him about his new dementia test, and about dementia related illnesses that affect so many of our loved ones today.
Interview with Dr. James E. Galvin
TSL: What was the inspiration for coming up with the methodology for the QDRS?
Dr. Galvin: “For most patients and family members, access to a dementia specialist is limited. Nearly all their care is provided by internal medicine and family medicine doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. While in theory these individuals could do the same assessment as a dementia specialist, they generally have neither the specialized training or the time to spend 2-3 hours with a single patient. My “inspiration” for the QDRS was to address the simple question – How do I take this 2-3 hours and translate it into something that takes 2-3 minutes but provide the same power to detect Alzheimer disease and related disorders?
After careful design and study, the QDRS was born. It gets to the heart of the diagnostic challenge: (1) is there a change in cognitive abilities; and (2) does this change interfere with everyday functioning. Since it is a caregiver-based assessment, it can be completed at home or in the waiting room prior to the office visit and help facilitate the conversation about what changes are present in the patient and how severe they are.”
TSL: What are your thoughts on the millions of boomers that may be affected by dementia in the coming years, like the stress this may place on caregivers, or the financial stress that dementia like illnesses will have on our healthcare system?
Dr. Galvin: “I have a lot of thoughts about this. If we do nothing, Alzheimer and related disorders will cripple the healthcare system – this has impact not only on the patient but also the caregiver and family (the “invisible” patients) who face not only the medical, social, and financial challenge of caring for their loved ones, but also the medical, social, and financial challenges of caring for themselves. I hope that my work, including the QDRS, helps in some small way to alleviate this burden.”
TSL: Do you have any words of wisdom for family members that suspect a loved one may be in the early stages of dementia?
Dr. Galvin: “My word of wisdom would be to be observant, if you suspect there is a change then discuss it with the patient and their healthcare provider. This could be as simple as a conversation or require more advanced interactions. The key is early diagnosis can lead to early intervention – medication, therapy, counseling, financial planning, etc. It is better to be proactive than reactive to any situation.”
Download the QDRS Assessment Tool
To download Dr. Galvin's new dementia test, click our link: The Quick Dementia Rating System (QDRS) Instructions and Form-2 . The Senior List® obtained direct permission from Dr. Galvin to publish the QDRS so our readers could share his new dementia test with families in need.