How Is an Alzheimer's Memory Test Administered?


Quick Answer

A health professional asks patients questions to administer the mini-mental state exam, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Individuals print out and take the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam, or SAGE, at home, and then take it to a doctor's office for further evaluation, notes The Ohio State University.

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Health professionals ask patients 30 questions during the mini-mental state exam, says the Alzheimer's Association. Questions ascertain a person's daily mental skills, such as awareness of symptoms, the current date and time of day. Patients also memorize a short list of words, perform simple calculations and follow instructions. The maximum score on this test is 30, and scores of 20 to 24 suggest mild dementia. A score less than 12 may indicate severe dementia.

Patients print out one of four interchangeable copies of the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam and write the answers in ink, according to The Ohio State University. The four-page test normally takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete, but the exam does not have a time limit. People should take the test without human assistance and without looking at a clock or calendar.

The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam tests various skills such as orientation, language, reasoning, computation and memory, notes the Wexner Medical Center. Orientation includes knowing the date, time and year. The language portion deals with verbal fluency and picture naming. The spatial reasoning aspect of the test includes clock drawing and three-dimensional construction. This 22-point test aims to find patients who may exhibit early signs of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

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