By Cheryl A. Luis, Andrew Keegan, and Michael Mullan
Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2009 Feb;24(2):197-201.
Suitable methods of earlier detection of memory changes, before the full onset of a dementia are needed. Methods such as imaging for abnormal protein accumulation in the brain and lumbar puncture to measure abnormal proteins in cerebral spinal fluid are not likely to be useful for wide-scale use due to costs and the invasive nature of the procedure. In this study, we examined the utility of a brief cognitive screen (the Montreal Cognitive Assessment; MoCA), compared to a widely used instrument (the Mini-Mental State Exam; MMSE) in detecting older adults living in the community experiencing significant memory decline and the early signs of dementia. One hundred and eighteen individuals, over the age of 70, participated in the project. The MoCA proved to be highly sensitive in identifying participants with memory problems. The MMSE was ineffective in comparison. Brief screening instruments such as the MoCA provide an objective and cost-effective means of determining the need for further evaluation of memory changes in older adults at risk for dementia.
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