The St Louis University Mental Status Exam, also known as SLUMS test, identifies the subtle symptoms of dementia and allows individuals to seek medical intervention early for the treatment of dementia. Understanding the importance of early treatment dementia this test may be done in the doctors office and does not need time between appointments to monitor a change in mental status. This could mean a slower progression of the disease for you or your family member. Early intervention may affect the disease process.
Many family members will ignore or dismiss the early signs of dementia and be in denial until the signs are no longer mild. Family members do not understand that this is harmful to the family member suffering from memory problems.
The research geriatricians Dr. Syed Tariq and John Morley MD co created the St. Louis University Mental Status Exam. Known as the SLUMS test, this is used to screen more educated patients and to detect early memory problems that the Mini Mental Status Exam did not identify.
It is widely recognized and used in diagnosing mild or minimal cognitive impairments or memory problems in the elderly.
Health care providers routinely give the Mini Mental Status Examination to patients who they believe may be experiencing some memory problems or signs of dementia. Both the Mini Mental Status Examination (MMSE) and the St Louis University Mental Status Exam (SLUMS test) are used as screening tools to determine if further testing should be pursued in diagnosing dementia.
What practitioners have found
Practitioners have found that the SLUMS test has been able to detect early cognitive or memory problems that the MMSE misses. It has been found the Mini Mental Status Examination (MMSE) has limitations as a screening tool, especially with regards to the higher educated patients with mild memory problems. The MMSE also requires a follow up screening.
So if you or family members are being tested for symptoms of dementia, ask your health care provider if they are going to be doing the Mini Mental, as well as the St. Louis University Mental Status Exam. It only takes about 7 to 10 extra minutes to give the SLUMS test and it complements the MMSE by asking the individual to perform tasks such as simple math, naming animals, recalling facts, and drawing a clock and placing the hands on the clock. Remember, the only difference in the tests, is SLUMS identifies early signs of dementia, and does not require any follow up testing. It can identify mild forms of memory problems on the first visit so that early treatment can be started.
The SLUMS Exam is not proprietary, it is absolutely FREE to use. Here is a link to the exam.
Here is a link to questions on the results.
Of course, if you do take the test and find the results unsettling or unsatisfactory, you should contact your health care provider immediately, and ask for a neurological or geriatric consultation. It is important to understand that there are many tests that make a diagnosis. It would likely be necessary that you go through a series of tests to determine if and what kind of dementia you may have.