On Memory


We have a standard MMSE (Mini Mental State Examination) which we use as a rough bar to judge how someone’s cognition may be changing over a period of time. There are lots of criticisms at the moment but taken with a pinch of salt and in conjunction with other changes and differences – it is a guide of changes. No more and no less. In my view anyhow.

As a matter of course, I’ll update the MMSE that we might have at an interval if there is someone who we think might have a cognitive impairment. I needn’t have had any worries about Mrs P, whom I visited last week.

As a part of the process, I ask her what day of the week it is, and what date it is. She responds. I explain that she’s one day out. She looks at me with some degree of bemusement.

Of course, I had been having one of those days when you are absolutely convinced it’s Wednesday – but actually, as she gently pointed out to me – it was Tuesday. She was right and I was wrong. In fact, she’d scored better than I would have on our MMSE that day!

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5 thoughts on “On Memory

  1. I had to giggle as I read this post, cb! I never know what day it is without looking at my phone calendar or diary first, and I rarely know what year it is until we’ve progressed past June, so you’re not alone. Good on your client for being brave enough to correct you though!

  2. That is hilarious! I always find the thought of a Menal State Exam quite scary though – I rarely know the day, and never the date, and often get confused about what month it is, sometimes what year. When asked my age I sometimes get it right, but I am often out by a year in either direction. I have this horrible feeling I would fail a MSE dreadfully! I had a complete breakdown when I was seeing a Dr for my benefits assessment once, as I was supposed to remember an address, and smugly told him I had a good memory, but when asked for it had absolutely no idea whatsoever. I didn’t know the number or the name of the road. Nothing. I was so frustrated with myself that I burst into tears. I am due another assessment for my benefits, and am dreading it!

  3. Thanks for the comments – as a reassurance, I would never depend exclusively on an MMSE although some parts are more useful than others (the day/date one is someone we are all liable to fall to!).
    I sometimes get my age wrong as well 🙂

  4. I find the Allen battery (ACLs or LACLS), assessment tools much more useful and applicable to assess memory. The assessment provides very helpful assessments of peoples ability to use memory in a functional way, (ie ability to carry out activities of daily living) rather than just their ability to recall ‘facts’ which may not be relevant to their functional ability. My own memory is aweful and I hope no one ever assesses me on the basis of a mini mental!

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