Should my husband go to an Alzheimer's specialist for testing and diagnosis?

1 answer | Last updated: Mar 28, 2016
Bluepaint asked...

My husband took a test for Alzheimer's to see if he had it, in our primary Doctors office. It was 30 questions and he missed one. I have been told that this is not really a test and he needs to go to an Alzheimer's Dr. for a longer test. Is this true?

Expert Answers

Beth Spencer is a social worker in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with more than 25 years of experience with families who have a member with dementia. She is coauthor of Understanding Difficult Behaviors and Moving a Relative with Memory Loss: A Family Caregiver's Guide. She directs Silver Club, early-stage and adult day programs serving individuals with Alzheimer's and related illnesses.

The test in the doctor's office is called a Mini Mental Status Test (MMSE). It's a screen for possible memory problems, not a diagnostic test. It's routinely given to older adults. Your husband's score was 29, which is considered well within the normal range. If you or he think that he is showing signs of significant memory loss or cognitive changes, he might want to have more extensive testing done by a neuropsychologist, to whom your doctor should be able to refer him. There are people who score very well on the MMSE who do, in fact, have some changes in their cognitive abilities. However, if you're not noticing any problems, I wouldn't worry about a score of 29 on the MMSE.    

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