Can I take the MMSE test without a doctor ordering it?

4 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My partner is concerned that I may have early stages of alzheimer's disease because of memory issues. Can I take the MMSE test without a doctor ordering it?

Expert Answers

Monica is an occupational therapist and designer of adapted dementia products through her company MindStart. Activities for Persons With Memory Loss. In addition, she works with the Minnesota-North Dakota Alzheimer's Association and the University of Minnesota on dementia issues. MindStart provides age-appropriate and stage-appropriate dementia activities, such as games, puzzles, and books. The items are simplified to meet the needs of various stages of dementia while remaining dignified and familiar in appearance

I am guessing you are guarded about having a physician involved regarding your memory issues. It can be a time filled with uncertainty and fear. You asked about taking a MMSE test without a doctor ordering it. If you searched hard enough you might find someone willing to do it... but here are the reasons I would ask you to consider having the physician do it:

  1. The person giving the MMSE should be trained in proper administration or you may get incorrect results.

  2. Memory problems can have reversible causes, such as vitamin deficiency or depression.

  3. The medical community is stressing early detection of memory issues is key. If it is a type of irreversible dementia, early detection allows you to get proper medication, support, time to make decisions, and time to make your wants and needs known.

Best wishes to you.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

do you live in a city that conducts clinical trials for memory? often these studies offer these tests and you remain ananonymous. i understand there are many reasons people want to have their medical issues kept quiet.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Many people, myself included, hesitate to take the test only because of the risk that the results could be potentially used against us in insurance and employment decisions.

Memory nurse answered...

Good for you for wanting to know if you show signs of memory loss early. A word of caution, the MMSE is not the only and may not be the best test to detect cognitive changes. There are now many other screening tools. Seek a professional for proper screening and don't forget to have your annual physical with some additional tests to rule out other causes for changes in your memory. You are worth it and your family and physician will likely applaud your self care.