What are neuropsychological tests used for?

Dementia: when does a test make sense?

Status: 04/16/2018 11:36 a.m. | archive
There is no cure for dementia. An unclear test result can increase fears.

Dementias are progressive diseases of the brain. The most common and well-known form is Alzheimer's disease. One possible indication of dementia is increasing forgetfulness: those affected find that they no longer remember something very well. Often it is also noticed by the relatives. A dementia test can provide clarity. But when is the right time? And how meaningful are the results?

Memory in the test: brain performance and neuropsychology

Different tests are used to diagnose dementia:

  • Brain performance tests Above all, they test memory, word-finding ability and attention. Short tests such as the Mini-Mental-Status-Test (MMST) or Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) take about 15 minutes and can provide an initial orientation. If the general practitioner or specialist suspects a memory disorder, the costs will be covered by the health insurance. However, experts consider it superfluous to carry out such tests for no reason as an IGEL service. They then cost 7 to 21 euros.
  • Neuropsychological tests in the case of specialists, these are carried out at the request of the doctor and paid for by the health insurance company. They last up to 90 minutes and also examine emotions, behavior and independence in everyday life.

Dementia and mild cognitive disorders

If a person has problems naming and remembering things during the test, this does not automatically mean progressive dementia. Often the test reveals a mild cognitive disorder (MCI), in which the memory gaps go noticeably beyond the age-usual forgetfulness. Such disorders can be precursors of dementia, but do not have to be. Only about 40 percent of those affected develop dementia. Often the condition remains constant or the brain function even improves again. Experts advise repeating a test after a year or two and giving the all-clear if memory has not deteriorated.

Chat log: dementia test

When do memory tests make sense if there are any signs of dementia? Gerontopsychiatrist Dr. Axel Wollmer answered questions on the subject in the Visite Chat. more

Which speaks for and against further tests

Further tests and examinations of the blood and nerve water, as well as imaging tests, can provide more certainty.

These examinations can not only provide indications of the onset of Alzheimer's disease, but are also important in order to discover other, treatable triggers of the impaired memory, for example side effects of medication, depression, sleep disorders or old age brain pressure (normal pressure hydrocephalus).

But some people do not even want to know whether they will have dementia. The most common reasons:

  • Alzheimer's is one of the diseases that people are particularly afraid of. They know that nerve cells in the brain gradually die off.
  • There are no effective therapies for Alzheimer's disease and many other forms of dementia. It has not yet been clarified what exactly causes the disease, how it develops and how it can be stopped.
  • A positive result can increase fears and worries in those affected.

Other sufferers and their relatives find the early diagnosis helpful:

  • They feel that they can adapt to the illness better and are looking for support, for example through self-help groups.
  • Appropriate solutions can be found for conflicts related to the patient's changed behavior, for example through adapted communication.
  • When treating other illnesses, doctors can avoid drugs that would make dementia worse.

Sport and nutrition against oblivion

Regardless of whether tests are done, experts advise people with memory problems to do more exercise. Because physical activity is one of the most effective strategies against forgetfulness and dementia. In addition to exercise, a Mediterranean diet, intellectual and social activities and weight loss also have a positive effect on brain performance.

Dementia - eating against oblivion

Studies show that some substances in food can protect the brain from dementia. Omega-3 fatty acids are of particular importance; they are mainly found in fish. more

This topic in the program:

Visit | 04/17/2018 | 8:15 pm