As a family caregiver, one experience that can be stressful is a cognitive screening. It’s a common occurrence when your parent has Alzheimer’s. It’s also one thing many Alzheimer’s patients absolutely despise. On these appointment days, stress levels and agitation are bound to be high.
What is a Cognitive Screening?
Cognitive screenings are used to access a person’s cognitive skills. With dementia, as the brain matter decreases, cognitive skills decline. The tests are used to determine if dementia could be in the early stages. They also help determine the loss of function from one year to the next.
There are different types of screenings. At a memory care clinic, it’s likely that the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is used. With this tool, clinicians ask a series of questions or give commands that the patient must then complete. The standard test leads to a total of 30 points.
The questions or commands include things like:
What is your name? How old are you?
What year, season, day, month is it?
Where do you live? Where are you right now?
Read this paper and do what the sentence asks you to do.
Listen to these three words.
Count backwards from 100 by 7s.
What three words were you told?
When the score for this test reaches a 0 to 17, it’s very likely that cognitive skills have severely declined. Most people can get a 24 or higher on it, so 23 is an indicator that dementia may be present.
The Mini-Cog is a shorter test that’s also commonly used. In this test, patients are told three words to remember. The next step involves drawing a clock and putting the numbers in. Once that’s done, the person must put in the clock’s hands to make it read the time given by the doctor. After this, the patient is asked to recall at least three of the words from the list. The highest possible score is 10. Anyone getting a 4 or lower could have dementia and requires additional testing.
Why These Tests Frustrate Seniors and Their Families
A senior is likely to balk at these tests. It’s a reminder of the abilities that are slipping away. Agitation increases before and during the test and can make it hard for a family member to watch. It can make it hard to get your parent to leave the house with you if there’s a fear that you’re taking that parent to the doctor for another test.
Rather than struggle, enlist the help of homecare aides. Have the homecare aide take your parent out for a fun adventure on random days. A mix of activities makes it hard for a senior to tell if it’s an appointment day or fun outing. Call our homecare agency to arrange help.
For Homecare Services in Collierville TN, please contact the caring staff at Personal Care Services MidSouth today!