The 5-minute Memory Orientation Screen Test (MOST), developed by Mitchell Clionsky, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist, and Emilymarie Clionsky, MD, an internist/psychiatrist, promises to give doctors a simple, but cutting-edge tool to use for an earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other dementias which now affect more than 5 million Americans.
This test combines recall of new information, orientation to time and date, and clock-drawing into a single score to determine the presence of and level of cognitive impairment. The test takes less than five minutes and it does not require that a doctor administer it.
The research behind MOST was published in the December 2010 American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias . It involved studying a group of over 700 patients who took MOST as part of an extensive curriculum of cognitive tests and family interviews. Data analysis found MOST to be our most reliable tool to date – more so than the Folstein Mini Mental State Exam or the Mini-Cog – the 2 go-to tests currently in use. In addition, this new 5-minute test also measures memory changes over time so the physician can identify progressive loss or positive responses to treatment.
According to Dr. Mitchell Clionsky. “Because patients are often unsure about whether their forgetfulness is normal or is an early sign of deterioration, you can’t just ask them how they are doing. By the time it becomes obvious to the doctor, the disease has gotten worse and the patient has lost abilities that might otherwise be saved.”
As with almost every disease, early detection is key because early detection means early treatment with medications that can slow down or stop the progression of memory problems. Dr. Clionsky pointed out that, starting January 2011, primary care doctors are required to identify cognitive problems as part of a Medicare patient’s Annual Wellness Exam. “Now they will have a better tool that is faster, simpler and more accurate. This will improve their ability to decide who needs more testing, who can be watched a little longer without taking action, and who can be reassured that it is just a ‘senior moment’.
This Annual Wellness Visit is a perfect time for a doctor to take stock of a patient’s cognitive level as another important part of their overall health.” She also pointed out that, “as patients get used to this kind of testing, it will be as routine as having their blood pressure taken or stepping on the scale.” Dr. Clionsky notes that she has been using the MOST in her clinical practice for the last three years. “I can show a patient and their family how they are doing in a way that is objective and gives us guidance for the next step in treatment. It does not take the place of extensive neuropsychological testing, but gives a busy practitioner the next best thing.”
For more current information on Alzheimer’s disease and the issues surrounding it, go to our website and visit our Alzheimer’s Resource Center. To learn more about protecting your assets and life-savings from the rising costs of health care and nursing homes, register online for one of our upcoming Trust, Estate & Asset Protection workshops, or call 1-800-964-4295 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).