What Is the Most Common Test for Alzheimer's Disease?

There is no single method that proves a person has Alzheimer's disease, but the MMSE and mini-cog tests are widely used for diagnosing Alzheimer's and dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Health care professionals administer the mini-mental state exam or MMSE by asking questions designed to test overall mental facility.

MMSE takers are evaluated through a point system, with 30 points as the highest possible score, explains the Alzheimer's Association. A score of 13 to 24 indicates moderate to severe dementia, while a score of 12 or below suggests severe dementia. The average person with Alzheimer's loses approximately two to four points every year.

The mini-cog is a simple test that asks people to memorize the names of three ordinary objects and to repeat these names after several minutes, notes the Alzheimer's Association. In the second part of the mini-cog, people are asked to draw clock faces with 12 properly placed numbers, with the clock's hands indicating a time specified by the test examiner.

A number of companies market Alzheimer's tests directly to the public. The Alzheimer's Association emphasizes that these tests can't replace complete diagnostic examinations conducted by qualified physicians. When testing patients for Alzheimer's, doctors generally conduct mood assessments. This is necessary because depression can cause memory problems, lack of interest in daily activities and other symptoms that overlap with Alzheimer's disease.