There are varying kinds of memory loss test options which provide a means of measuring and categorizing memory loss. Measurement and categorization of memory loss helps physicians pinpoint a diagnosis, which in turn helps them identify the best treatment for the patient. These memory loss test options vary in length.
For instance, doctors may give a brief memory loss test such as a Mini-Cog. While doing a Mini-Cog test, the doctor says three words and then asks the patient to remember those words later. Also, the doctor asks the patient to do a drawing of a clock. There may also be a brief mental status exam such as the Folstein Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) which assesses orientation to time and place, attention, arithmetic calculation, recall, everyday language, and motor skill.
One is typically considered to have memory problems if one is not able to get 20 out of 30 questions correct on the MMSE. Example questions on the MMSE are "what is your name?" or "what is the date today?" or items of that nature. Other items might include being requested to count backward from 100, doing simple arithmetic, repeating a series of words, or spelling various words backward.
The doctor may choose to give a lengthier memory loss test such as the ADAS-Cog, which is 30 minutes in duration. Also, there may be more neuropsychological memory loss test options. For instance, there could be tests which include assessment of language, visual-spatial, problem solving, concentration, in addition to testing memory skills.
Medical tests may be included in the exam such as urine testing or blood testing to find out if there is thyroid or vitamin deficiency. Brain imaging testing might be done also, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan testing. These particular scans are done to determine the shape and volume of the human brain while also checking for symptoms of stroke, tumor, or head injury that could cause potential memory problems. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans, functional MRIs, and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) are also done to assess brain use of oxygen and sugar in addition to the memory testing that is done.
In memory assessment, spinal fluid testing might be done to measure the levels of protein associated with Alzheimer's disease. Also, genetic testing might be done in some cases because doctors know that a genetic variation called APOE4 happens to be associated with increased likelihood of memory problems and dementia after the age of 65. Of course, not all persons with APOE4 necessarily develop Alzheimer's. Still, the test for APOE4 is sometimes done.