The health law requires Medicare to cover a screening for cognitive impairment during an annual wellness visit.
Dementia screening tests are typically short questionnaires that assess health indicators such as memory, attention and language and/or visuospatial skills. One of the most common, the mini-mental state examination, consists of 30 questions (such as “What month is this?” and “What country are we in?”) and may be completed in about 10 minutes, according to an article published by Kaiser Health News.
The risk of dementia increases with age: Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, accounting for up to 80 percent of cases. Other types include vascular dementia, many cases of Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.
Someone without symptoms who does poorly on a screening test may have other medical conditions, such as depression or sleep apnea, that can cause memory or other problems. That’s why it’s important that people take the tests in a medical setting with a trained professional who can evaluate them and take a good medical history from patients and their family members, as reported by Kaiser Health News.
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends seniors undergo cognitive impairment screening and evaluation to establish a baseline for comparison, and then have regular follow-up assessments in subsequent years.