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The Mini-Cog Test for Alzheimer's and Dementia

Posted Apr 02 2009 12:53pm 2 Comments
The Mini-Cog is a simple three minute test that is useful in detecting mild cognitive impairment, dementia, or an early stage of Alzheimer's. The research study, included below, showed that the test has a high degree of accuracy (83 percent).

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.
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 in family member. However if the results are suspicious, the test should be replicated by a physician or doctor 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 past 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.

The article below describes the Mini-Cog (MC), with a Functional Activities Questionnaire (FAQ) and the results of the research study. Please read this carefully.
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Rapid Screening Test Developed to Detect Early Alzheimer's Disease

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.

"While this may not seem overly impressive, it is quite remarkable for a 3-minute investment," says Lah. "The MC-FAQ is also extremely inexpensive, easy to administer and score, and requires no special training."

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.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, by 2010 there will be an estimated 500,000 new cases each year, and nearly one million new cases annually by 2050.

Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, November 2008 (Volume 15:3).

Contacts:
Jennifer Johnson: 404-727-5696

Bob DeMarco is a citizen journalist, blogger, and Caregiver. In addition to being an experienced writer he taught at the University of Georgia , was an Associate Director and Limited Partner at Bear Stearns, the CEO of IP Group, and is a mentor. Bob currently resides in Delray Beach, FL where he cares for his mother, Dorothy, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. He has written more than 500 articles with more than 11,000 links to his work on the Internet. His content has been syndicated on Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Pluck, Blog Critics, and a growing list of newspaper websites. Bob is actively seeking syndication and writing assignments.


More from the Alzheimer's Reading Room
  • A Simple Three Minute Test Can Detect the Earliest Stage of Alzheimer's Disease
  • Five Ways to Keep Alzheimer's Away
  • Ten Million Baby Boomers likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s during their lifetime
  • Living Alzheimer's From the Front Row
  • High cholesterol levels in your 40s raises Alzheimer's risk
  • Is Alzheimer's a type of diabetes of the brain?
  • Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures 2008
  • Is Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) an Early Stage of Alzheimer's
  • Is Etanercept the Cure for Alzheimer's
  • A Wonderful Moment in Time--Mom at the Banana Boat



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