Identification of Dementia in Africa (IDEA screening tools)

Identification of dementia

Identification of dementia can be difficult in sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of cognitive screening tools for dementia have been designed and validated in high-income countries. If these tools are used in many settings in sub-Saharan Africa, they will not be accurate or useful, due to cultural and educational differences. In many Africa countries, many older adults did not attend school, and the illiteracy level is high.

Likewise, commonly used tests designed to measure function, or the ability to carry out daily tasks have been designed for use in high-income countries, where the role of an older person is very different to that in Africa.
For this reason, one of the key aims of the IDEA study has been to develop and validate useful screening and assessment tools for health professionals in Africa to use to identify people with dementia.

The IDEA brief cognitive test for Africa

We have developed and validated a brief cognitive screening tool for use in older adults in sub-Saharan Africa. It was especially designed to be used in older adults who have little or no formal education, but it can also be used in those who have attended formal schooling.

The IDEA cognitive test for Africa is free to use and can be downloaded from the ‘resources’ page. If a patient scores 8 or less in total, there is a high chance they have dementia or another problem such as delirium or depression affecting their ability to think, and you should make a more detailed assessment to find out the cause.
The research papers describing how the cognitive test was developed, and how it was validated can be found on the ‘Our Research’ page.

Functional assessment (Assessment of activities of daily living)
The IDEA functional assessment for Africa – IDEA-IADL

In order to diagnose dementia, it is not enough to identify cognitive impairment. Function, or complex daily activities must also be affected. We have developed and validated a functional assessment tool to be completed with a carer or relative of the patient. This allows a health professional to decide whether cognitive impairment is affecting the daily activities of the person.

The IDEA functional assessment for Africa is free to use and can be downloaded from the ‘resources’ page. The research papers describing how it was developed, and how it was validated can be found on the ‘Our Research’ page.