Dementia and Cognitive Impairment Testing

by | Jan 16, 2023 | Articles, Conditions, Mental health, Neurologic

Screening Tests

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) can be subtle and hard to quantify.  Sometimes it’s hard to know what is concerning or just normal aging.  Early changes are often missed until one has obvious, severe dysfunction.  By identifying early cognitive changes one has a much better chance of improving or curing cognitive impairment.  Here are two screening tests that can be taken at home to help determine if someone has cognitive impairment or dementia.

Ascertain Dementia 8

Functional Activities Questionnaire

Formal Cognitive Tests

If any degree of cognitive impairment is found then a more formal cognitive function test should be administered.  The “Mini Mental State Exam” or MMSE is a basic test that most all medical providers are taught to use.  It is a reasonable test to confirm dementia.  The problem with the MMSE is that it has a low sensitivity rate for MCI, meaning that it will usually miss early/mild cognitive dysfunction.  For this reason we don’t recommend the MMSE in early/mild cases.

One of the most validated tests of this kind is the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) which was developed to enable earlier detection of MCI.  The MoCA has greater sensitivity than MMSE in detecting MCI (90 % versus 18 %), meaning MoCA will diagnose early cognitive dysfunction 90% of the time versus only 18% for the MMSE.  Dr Rollins has completed the required certification in order to provide the MoCA test.

More information

Relationship between the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and Mini-mental State Examination for assessment of mild cognitive impairment in older adults

Patient Handout Montreal Cognitive Assessment 2020

See our article on Alzheimer’s disease for the top 10 warning signs.


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