Brain health is critical for people of every age, but it is particularly important for seniors, who are at an elevated risk of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases and impairments.  In 2019, it is estimated that 5.8 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia.  Routine cognitive screenings are a great method for identifying potential diseases and conditions early for optimal treatments.


The Most Common Cognitive Screenings

  • Brief Interview for Mental Status (BIMS): This screening is used for a quick overview of how an adult is functioning cognitively.  It is required by many nursing homes to get a sense of how a senior is performing at various mental tasks.  The test is usually given quarterly and can indicate improvement, decline or plateau in mental ability.

  • The Folstein or Mini-Mental Status Exam: This exam is a more in-depth assessment that tests orientation, memory, attention, visual-spatial and language skills in the elderly.  While it is not as short as BIMS, it provides an excellent overview of cognitive functioning and spotting signs of cognitive loss.

  • The Saint Louis University Mental Status Exam (SLUMS): The SLUMS tool was developed to detect signs of moderate cognitive impairment and dementia.  The Test is also relatively brief and includes timed portions to assess attention, numeric calculation, visual-spatial, executive function and memory abilities.

  • Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA): The MOCA screening test is very sensitive, and used to rapidly assess cognitive health to identify warning signs of Alzheimer’s and other diseases including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis and even depression.  Because the assessment is so versatile, it can be very powerful to spot warning signs and create an appropriate follow-up plan.

The Benefits of Cognitive Screening Tests

Unfortunately, there is no perfect screening test for diagnosing dementia and Alzheimer.s.  BIMs cannot be used to diagnose dementia, but it can identify trends in cognition ability over time.  When one of the tests above has a radical change in score, it can craw attention to the need for additional, more comprehensive tests that can make a formal diagnosis.  When these tests are administered at regular intervals, they are most valuable.

Care for Your Senior Loved Ones with Senior Care Lifestyles

Senior Care Lifestyles specializes in connecting seniors with the right in-home care, assisted living, or senior living community to meet their needs.  We have helped hundreds of clients and treat each senior as a valued member of our own family deserving our personalized attention, compassion and respect.

For help or if you have questions, please call Senior Care Lifestyles at 410-977-3718 or send a message through our website


Article submitted by Deborah Bakalich, MSRN Member

Posted by Pat France, MSRN Member