Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias

  • Neuropsychological Evaluations (NE) use tests that are scored according to the examinee’s age and demographic information. This allows differentiation of age associated memory difficulties from dementia.

 

  • NE are important for diagnosing the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease when medications may be most effective. NE can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of such medications.

 

  • NE can be used to identify whether additional steps may be needed to ensure the safety of the patient.

 

  • Neuropsychological testing is required for diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease according to the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke-Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (NINDS-ADRDA)

 

  • NE are useful beyond simply diagnosis, to helping caregivers better interact with and help the patient.

 

  • The Mini Mental Status Examination or MOCA do not adequately differentiate between memory encoding, retrieval, and storage problems.

 

  • An individual may appear to have impaired memory storage, but in reality may simply be slow at retrieving such information due to a stroke or other condition.

 

  • An individual may have problems encoding due to poor attention and may mistakenly appear to be memory difficulties on the MMSE.

 

  • The MMSE should only be used as a screening tool with referrals made for those with impairment, and not for a diagnosis of dementia.

 

  • Highly intelligent people may still score within normal limits on the MMSE, even though they may require assistance on a daily basis.

 

  • Temporary conditions such as severe depression or other psychiatric disorders, medication induced delirium, and other conditions may be misdiagnosed as dementia. This may have devastating consequences if the person is moved to a low stimulation nursing facility when they may have the capacity for greater independence.