The Mini Mental Status Exam (also known as the Folstein test), developed in 1975, is probably the most widely used exam for screening Alzheimer’s Disease. The exam takes only 5-10 minutes to complete, but it must be completed by a trained clinician. The test assesses five specific areas (with examples):
- Orientation – What year is it? What is the date? What is the day?
- Retention – Name 3 objects and ask the person to repeat the words all at once
- Attention – Count backwards from a certain number, or spell a word backwards
- Recall – Repeat the 3 words previously stated
- Language – Copy a written design, repeat a phrase, name an object, etc.
Results of the exam are scored into four categories:
- 0-9: severe Alzheimer’s
- 10-19: moderate Alzheimer’s
- 20-23: possible early stage Alzheimer’s
- 24-30: normal
Unlike the Saint Louis University Mental Status Examination (SLUMS) or the Test Your Memory (TYM) exam, the Mini Mental exam is not available for use by individuals without copyright permission. No matter, the SLUMS exam is widely used by professionals, and it does a better job of detecting Alzheimer’s in persons that have a higher education level. Further, the MMSE requires a follow up screening, whereas the SLUMS does not.
Regardless of which test you use, screening tools such as these are no substitute for a clinical assessment by a medical professional.