The 5-word memory test is a verbal test used to evaluate memory in seniors and evaluate for potential Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive declines. The test is administered by a doctor who asks the participant to remember a list of five common words and then repeat it back after some time has passed. If the patient has difficulty recalling the list of words, it can indicate that cognitive decline is present. 

How is Dementia Diagnosed?

Doctors use multiple tests and imaging methods to diagnose dementia. These can include a physical examination, psychiatric evaluation, memory test, laboratory testing and imaging such as CT scans or MRIs of the brain. Doctors can use these tests to accurately diagnose if a person has dementia, but determining which type of dementia can be more difficult. 

A major part of the diagnostic process is ruling out other conditions that can mimic dementia symptoms. Some of these conditions include normal pressure hydrocephalus, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, traumatic brain injury and vitamin deficiencies. Since so many other medical conditions can mimic dementia, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis from a doctor or specialist such as a neurologist, psychiatrist or geriatrician. 

Once a diagnosis is made, a doctor can recommend the next steps for treatment and care, which can include moving to a memory care community in the later stages of the disease. 

What are Early Signs of Cognitive Decline?

Dementia affects everyone differently, but there are some common early symptoms that indicate signs of cognitive decline. These can be easy to confuse with normal aging. However, it’s important to remember that severe memory problems should not be considered normal. 

Early signs of cognitive decline can include:

  • Memory loss
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Confusion about time and place
  • Drastic mood changes and mood swings
  • Difficulty with familiar tasks
  • Difficulty finding the right word in conversation
  • Becoming anxious and withdrawn

If you or a loved one begin to display any of the signs above, it’s important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.