What does an MMSE score of 20 mean?
Some useful memory impairment resources:
The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is a test that health care professionals give to someone who may have dementia. Dementia refers to a decline in mental ability that is severe enough to affect daily life. This person may have Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia. The MMSE is not the only test given to find out if someone has dementia, but it is a test that is often used by health care professionals.
The MMSE asks questions such as, “What is the year?”, “Where are we now?”, “Make up and write a sentence about anything,” and “Spell WORLD backwards.” The MMSE is used to help measure short- and long-term memory, concentration and understanding instructions. The total possible score on the test is 30 points. Some test items receive a higher score than others.
The MMSE has a maximum score of 30 points. The scores are generally grouped as follows:
- 25-30 points: normal cognition
- 21-24 points: mild dementia
- 10-20 points: moderate dementia
- 9 points or lower: severe dementia
If your loved one has a score between 10 and 20 points on the MMSE, he or she may have moderate dementia. The health care professional will consider this result when determining whether to diagnose your loved one with dementia. Your loved one will have to undergo other tests for their diagnosis, including a physical exam, a medical history, brain scans, and possibly other memory tests.
Although health care providers use the MMSE often, researchers encourage health care professionals to consider the results along with the patient’s personality, behavior, and how he or she is able to manage at home and with daily life activities.
Your health care professional will let you know what next steps to take, depending on the diagnosis. You may need to find more care options for your loved one, such as regular in-home care or dementia care options in a residential care community. These may include assisted living, memory care or a nursing home.
If your loved one is diagnosed with dementia, he or she may be offered a drug designed to help patients with dementia. These drugs may improve certain symptoms of dementia, but they haven’t been shown to slow or stop the progress of dementia.
Your loved one also may be asked to take the MMSE test again in the future to see how memory loss has progressed. Make sure to let your health care provider know about any new problems your loved one has with memory, language, or ability to function in daily life.
Other MMSE scores: