Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Diagnosing dementia

The most commonly used screening test for cognitive problems in older adults is the Mini Mental-State Examination (MMSE). The maximum score is 30 and a score of 24 or less is typically used to detect people with cognitive dysfunction. A study of 1,141 people carried out by researchers at Texas Tech University looked at the accuracy of the MMSE's diagnosis in people with dementia, people with mild cognitive impairment and healthy older adults. It found that for older adults who were better educated a cut-off point of 27 on the MMSE would provide a more accurate diagnosis of cognitive problems. Better-educated people tend to decline and die more quickly after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's so it is particularly important to pick up problems in this group.

You can find out more about this research at

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