The Mini-Cog Test For Alzheimer's and Dementia

By Bob DeMarco on July 05, 2014

The Mini-Cog Test For Alzheimer's and Dementia

The Mini-Cog is a simple three part test that is useful in detecting Alzheimer's and related dementia. The research study, included below, showed that the test has a high degree of accuracy (83 percent).

The Mini-Cog is a simple diagnostic test that can be carried out by an individual. It can be used if you are concerned about mild cognitive impairment, dementia, or Alzheimer's. However, if the results are suspicious, the test should be replicated by a physician or doctor specialist.

Please note:

  • If you decide to try this test and,

  • you find the results of the test suspicious

  • Please don't jump to any conclusion until

  • You consult with your personal care physician

  • And, schedule a test with a memory specialist.

There are three parts to the test.

First, name three objects and then ask the person being tested to repeat them back to you (for example, chair, house, apple). If the person cannot repeat the three objects after a few tries (cannot learn them), please consult a physician immediately. If the person can complete this task move on to the following.

Second, ask the person to draw a clock. The clock should include the shape and the numbers on the clock. Pretty much like a simple clock you see on a wall.

Third, ask the person to repeat the words/objects from the first part of the test.

If the person is unable to repeat any of the words, they might be categorized as mildly cognitively impaired or suffering from dementia. The key word so far--might.

If the person can repeat all three words the person is not "probably suffering from dementia".

If the person cannot draw the clock or if it looks abnormal they would fall into the category of "probably" suffering from mild cognitive impairment or dementia.

You should note that many people that cannot pass this test might be suffering from some other illness. This is why it is necessary to consult your doctor and a memory specialist.

The person you are testing could be suffering from depression, hypothyroidism, or any number of illnesses that can present as Alzheimer's or dementia. This is why it is necessary to get a complete battery of tests performed by a medical professional prior to any "official" diagnosis.

With millions of baby boomers entering late adulthood, the number of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) is expected to drastically rise over the next several decades.

A team of national researchers, led by Emory University, has developed a rapid screening test to detect mild cognitive impairment (MCI) -- often the earliest stage of AD. The findings are published in the online edition of Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

The study shows that the combination of a very brief three-minute cognitive screening test, called the Mini-Cog (MC), with a Functional Activities Questionnaire (FAQ) -- administered to a family member or friend -- could accurately identify individuals with MCI and undiagnosed dementia.

"Since current medications can only delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease but are not able to reverse its devastating effects, a test like this is key to help individuals detect this devastating disease earlier and maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible," says James Lah, MD, associate professor of neurology, Emory University School of Medicine and lead investigator of the study.

The new screening instrument, referred to as the MC-FAQ, allowed the researchers to correctly classify the 204 participating elderly individuals as cognitively normal, demented, or mildly cognitively impaired with a high degree of accuracy (83 percent). Approximately 30 percent of participants had MCI and 32 percent were very mildly demented.

According to Lah, screening for MCI is notoriously difficult and typically requires 40-60 minutes or more of formal neuropsychological testing to achieve 80 percent accuracy or higher. Specific accuracy for classifying people as MCI with the MC-FAQ was 74 percent.

The MC portion of the screening consisted of a simple clock drawing task and three-item recall that typically took the research participant less than five minutes to complete. The FAQ was completed by a reliable informant, generally a spouse, other family member or close friend while the research participant was performing other tasks.

Publisher's Note: This test is administered as part of every self assessment program carried out by Beyond Driving With Dignity Certified Individuals. This program is a solution to many of our readers struggle to find the right words to have their conversation with a parent, or an elderly loved one about their diminished driving skills. They are afraid of insulting the senior, or they fear damaging the relationship. This fear stops people from taking action, and actually puts the lives of loved ones at risk. This new program that has just been introduced in Ontario solves this problem. Beyond Driving With Dignity has experienced, specially trained, and certified personnel to help families and caregivers moderate this difficult situation, while helping the elderly driver to self assess their ability. This program, while new to Ontario, has helped families across North America.

To find out more on how this program works in Ontario, Canada, you can call me, John Bauslaugh, a certified BDD professional, and I'll explain the benefits of this program. 905-309-1525.

To find a BDD professional in your part of North America, please go to this link and look for the blue paragraph beside the curvy red arrow:

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By Bob DeMarco| July 05, 2014
Categories:  Dementia

About the Author

Bob DeMarco

Bob DeMarco

Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR), and an Alzheimer's caregiver. His mother Dorothy lived with Alzheimer's disease.  Bob is a recognized expert, writer, speaker, and influencer in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide. The ARR Knowledge Base contains more than 4,000 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.


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