A cognitive test is a simple examination that can test an individual on areas of cognition including short-term memory (retention and recall), attention, and language. Although this type of test can help identify areas of cognitive decline and suggest that the individual pursue further testing with a specialist if necessary, it should not be used as a diagnostic tool.
There are a variety of examinations available to test an individual's cognitive state. These include the MIS, GP-COG, Mini-COG, SLUMS, and others. These exams are each rated differently and have a varying number of total points. The Folstein Mini Mental State Exam, or MMSE, is an example of a cognitive test which evaluates an individual using a 30-point scale. A result of a "22" or below is considered an abnormal score, in that the individual may have some cognitive impairment. To determine the meaning of this score, rule out possible causes, and receive helpful suggestions for the future, it is advisable that the individual undergo complete testing. This can include a blood test, urine analysis, comprehensive medical examination, and brain imaging scans. It is important to keep in mind that a low score is not always indicative of a problem and should not be a cause for concern until further investigation is complete. A lower score on a cognitive exam can be due to poor or lack of education, language barrier, illness, fatigue, depression, or a variety of other reasons. Make sure to discuss this score with a physician for further information.
I want to echo AFA's recommendation. Several doctors (including a neurologist) told us that my mother had dementia in a snap judgment, without doing a battery of tests. We finally got Mom to go to a neurologist who wanted to do the complete battery of tests that AFA describes. In the neuropsychological evaluation, the psychologist found that Mom did not have Alzheimer's at that point; instead, she had mild cognitive impairment. My mom refused to take the other tests that the neurologist recommended (and were mentioned by the AFA staff); however, I tried very hard to get her to do these other tests since her memory loss could be caused by other health issues or other considerations. Recent articles that I've read have also indicated that memory loss in some patients can be linked to brain traumas.
So be aware that the rating on the cognitive test is just one piece of the memory puzzle. Be sure to work with a physician to put all the pieces together. The answer may surprise you!
Take care and keep us posted!
So please encourage the patient you mentioned to get the whole battery.
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