Dementia mini mental test - is it fit for purpose? 

Torbay Weekly

The mini mental test you are asked to complete when you have been referred to the consultant by your doctor is probably one of the most important tests of your cognitive abilities and memory tests - but is it fit for purpose?

Dementia is predominantly about short term memory loss, please remember these four words - short term memory loss - and yet during the tests you are asked these kind of questions:

Where do you live? Well, you may have lived at the same house for the last 40 years!

Who is the queen of England? Really? Oh come on! She has been on the throne for 70 years plus

What car do you drive? You may well have had the same car for years

And best of all? Please draw a triangle inside a triangle and a circle overlapping a circle.

Now, if you’re anything like me, the only thing I can draw is breath! Dementia or not, I would struggle with that one.

And so it goes on. In my humble opinion, absolutely ridiculous!

A perfect example is a very good friend of mine, who also had severe dementia, went to do the test with his wife.

He scored 17 out of 20 and was told it wasn’t too bad and progressing slowly.

They both left the building got in the car, drove one mile home and when they arrived home, his wife asked him: “Where have we just been?"

He answered: “No idea!"

At this point, I should be saying I rest my case but I won’t because I really don’t think the doctors or consultants are listening enough to the loved ones and relatives and they really need too.

I know what you’re thinking - what should they be asking then?

Well, here are a few suggestions I believe every loved one should ask the consultant to ask, in fact insist the consultant asks these questions because after all, it’s about short term memory loss. Remember? See what I did there!

They should ask: How did you get here this morning? What did you have for breakfast? What time did you get up? What did you watch on TV last night?

We need relevant questions to be asked and not the same ones that have been asked for years.... they are clearly not working as so many are being missed and going undiagnosed.

When I was first diagnosed, I was told by a consultant to 'use it or lose it'. That was all.

When I asked him after all his years of experience, and in his professional capacity, was that the best advice he could give, I will let you guess his response - needless to say I changed consultant and it’s a good job I did as the first one diagnosed me the Alzheimer’s-type dementia and I actually had the Lewy body’s type dementia.

I really can’t stress enough how important it is to get the right diagnosis as different drugs for different types of dementia are involved and wrong usage of certain drugs can have dire consequences.

If you have any doubt whatsoever please insist on a second opinion.

So if you do find yourself in the awful position of being sat there while a loved one is being diagnosed for dementia and they do the mini mental test, please insist the questions I have suggested be asked because they will help ensure the consultant has a better idea of how far the disease has progressed.