Dementia often goes unrecognized in elderly people because tests for it are difficult and time-consuming. Yale geriatricians have devised a fast and simple screening method to identify those at risk for dementia who might be candidates for more elaborate testing.

In the “time and change” test, developed by a team led by Sharon Inouye, M.D., associate professor of medicine, patients have two tries in 60 seconds to tell the time on a clock face set to 11:10 and two tries in three minutes to extract one dollar in change from a selection of three quarters, seven dimes and seven nickels. “The test is not designed to replace standard tests,” said Inouye, “but to be used as an initial screening to identify people who should be evaluated more thoroughly with more sensitive tests.” A study of the test was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in December. “Based on our results, the test could reduce the percentage of patients with unrecognized dementia from 44 to 19 percent,” said Inouye.