(NBC News) It's predicted the number of people with Alzheimer's disease will nearly triple in the coming decades.
Now there may be a way to detect some forms of dementia earlier and boost the brain power we still have.
A four-page questionnaire may be able to alleviate some of those fears or signal early, subtle signs of dementia.
"We were thinking, you know, we need to catch these people much earlier," said neurologist Dr. Douglas Scharre of Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.
Dr. Douglas Scharre and colleagues developed a free, online test that measures brain functions like orientation, language, reasoning, problem solving and memory.
In their study of more than a thousand older adults nearly 30% showed signs of early memory problems they didn't know they had.
That's important because if a problem is found early enough some treatments might be able to slow the progression of memory loss.
"If you do take this test, you need to take it to your physician. It's not a diagnostic test for any particular condition. It just says - hey maybe my thinking is not as good as it used to be," said Scharre.
But perhaps with practice it could be.
You can learn more about the online cognition test from Ohio State at http://sagetest.osu.edu/
Also out Monday, new evidence from Johns Hopkins that some brain exercises can improve reasoning skills and processing speed.
Researchers studied nearly 3-thousand older adults with normal memory.
Those who went through a series of brain training had less cognitive decline than a control group even a decade later.
They also had an easier time managing their finances, medications and performing daily activities.
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