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Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE)

This test has obvious weaknesses. It is language and education dependent. Luckily, the test has been translated into Chinese and the results have been scientifically proven. Still, the test requires the patient to have at least six years of education to be valid. Furthermore, the patient has to be able to write, read and hear properly. In addition the test is unreliable in distinguishing between borderline normal and mild dementia and is unable to tell what kind of disease is causing the dementia.

Even though the test has its imperfections, ,it is easy to use and it does give a numerical score which makes tracking the progression of the disease easier.

Dementia remains a clinical diagnosis: the doctor needs to take into account the entire picture – the patient’s behavior, physical/psychiatric findings, the history of his/her illness and laboratory/scanning results – in order to make a diagnosis.

The MMSE is considered to be another tool to help with the diagnosis of dementia.

Written by Dr. Kenneth Chan