Getting Alzheimer’s is one of the biggest health fears among seniors. So when you suffer forgetfulness—maybe you lose your keys or you can’t remember someone’s name—it’s natural to worry that you may have early symptoms of the disease.
This is especially true if you’ve seen a parent or other family member suffer with it.
That’s why many seniors ask their doctor to test them for dementia. A new study found that’s a bad idea.
Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School discovered that doctor office dementia tests are only slightly more accurate than a coin toss.1
The study examined three common dementia tests administered by general practitioners:
The Mini-Mental State Examination is used to gauge verbal memory and mental orientation.
The Animal Naming test challenges patients to name as many animals as they can in one minute.
The Memory Impairment Screen tests verbal memory.
The study looked at more than 800 seniors. Their average age was 82.
All the subjects were first given comprehensive dementia workups… a neurological exam, review of medications, DNA sampling, and lifestyle and family history interviews. The results showed about a third of the subjects had dementia.
After that, the subjects were given the three doctor’s office dementia tests. The researchers then compared those results with the comprehensive assessments.
It turned out that 36% of the patients were misdiagnosed by one or more of the quick tests.
Researcher Janice Ranson was the lead study author. “Dementia can be difficult to accurately detect, particularly in a primary care setting,” she said. “Our results suggest that some of the misclassification is due to test biases, such as a patient’s age, ethnicity, or education level.[ii]
“We desperately need more accurate and less biased ways of detecting dementia swiftly in clinic,” said Ranson.
A Better Way to Diagnose Dementia
If you are worried about dementia, skip the quick doctor’s office test. These tests are wildly inaccurate.
Instead, book an appointment with a neurologist or memory clinic and get a neurological exam. It is far more accurate than fast tests done by general practitioners.
It will test your eye movement, reflexes, brain activity, and other markers that more accurately reveal if you are suffering from dementia. It also involves analyzing your medical history, a physical exam, brain imaging, and mental status tests that gauge your abilities with everyday mental tasks.3
Editor’s Note: If you’re worried about Alzheimer’s, there’s something else you should know… It’s NEVER too late to build a strong brain. That’s why Dr. Nussbaum created his unique Ageless Brain Kit.
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