Your Ultimate Alzheimer's & Dementia Test Guide
by Susanne Mitschke
A big number of MindMate users are people who do not have a dementia diagnosis and who just want to keep their brains sharp. Still, many do ask us if there is a way to test oneself or if there are tests made by doctors that can give an exact dementia diagnosis.
First of all, it should be clear that no single test can prove a person has Alzheimer's. Only a comprehensive assessment can lead to a diagnosis.
Usually, the assessment would include tests concerning mental abilities and blood, as well as brain imaging.
Early detection does matter, and if you notice anyearly signs of dementiayou should see a doctor.
We made anoverview of the most common mental status tests, genetic testing and and brain scans.
We will also answer the question, if thistests are really effectiveand if they can really diagnose someone with dementia.
Testing Mental Abilities
(Mini Mental State Examination) According to the Alzheimer's Society the MMSE consists of a series of questions and tests, each of which scores points if answered correctly. The MMSE tests some different mental abilities, including a person's memory, attention and language. The MMSE result is always just part of the assessment and will be considered besides the persons physical assessment, history or brain imaging results.
The Mini-Cog is a simple screening tool that takes up to only 3 minutes. It consists of a three-item recall test for memory and a simply scored clock-drawing test.
(The General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition)
This assessment was designed especially for professionals like general practitioners and consists of two parts. The first is the patient assessment with memory related questions and the second is the informant interview with a family member. It takes only 3 minutes to do the evaluation, and it is not influenced by language background, making it popular among multicultural patients.
(Dementia Mood Assessment Scale)
Mood changes can also be early signs of dementia which makes the assessment of mood disorders essential. Depression and loss of interest in life can often overlap with dementia.
(Self-Administrated Gerocognitive Examination)
The SAGE examination gives you the choice of four test sheets which are interchangeable. The examination has to be taken independently, and a doctor can assess the result. The test includes questions about the date, copying a drawing and problem solving.
(Montreal Cognitive Assessment)
Together with your doctor you could also do the MoCA. It's a brief cognitive screening tool for Mild Cognitive Impairment. Different areas like memory and attention are being tested here.
If the doctor wants to identify changes in brain structure a CT (computerised tomography), CAT (computerised axial tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can be done.
Changes in brain activities can be identified with SPECT (single photon emission computerised tomography)and PET (positron emission tomography) scans.
The Alzheimer's Association provides you with more information about genetics related dementia.
Such tests could detect genes that increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's, like APOE-e4,and other rare "deterministic" genes that directly causeautosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease (ADAD)or "familial Alzheimer's".
Are these tests and quizzes effective?
Although these test might give an indication and increase the number of early detections, none of them are 100% accurate. “There’s no test that can tell you that somebody is definitely going to get Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Deborah Blacker, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Gerontology Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. A combination of mental tests, physical assessments and medical history will help to get as close to a definite answer as possible. What do you think about Alzheimer's or dementia tests? If you have been diagnosed with dementia, how did you get your diagnosis?