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Today’s message is two-fold. Running across this blog and the cognitive test could be your next step.

The second message is learn tunnel vision, simply do what is in front of you and don’t worry about the rest. One thing at a time will keep you moving forward.

First, below is a quick, easy test you can give your loved one to see where they are at cognitively.  It is similar to the test Mom’s Neurologist gives when I accompany her to her appointments. I’ve been so many times I can remember most of the questions and the pattern they follow.

In no way does this take the place of your loved one’s actual Neurology appointment, but it can serve as a sort of barometer.

Check mark your loved one’s correct answer, a circle for incorrect answers.

  1. Say to your loved one, “I want you to remember three words:  Apple, Penny, Table.”  Have them repeat these words back to you.
  2. What is this? (hold up a pen)
  3. What is this? (point to your wedding ring, watch or bracelet or earring)
  4. Have them fold a piece of paper in half, then half again, it should be a tidy smaller square.
  5. Have them draw a clock with numbers, then give them a “time” to draw, for example, “now draw 2 ‘o clock, or 4:30, or 10:15, or 9:25,” etc.
  6. Have them duplicate your drawing of two triangles (in whatever way you draw them).
  7. Ask them what those three words are.  
  8. What county do you live in?
  9. What country do you live in?
  10. What day is it?
  11. What season is it?
  12. What month is it?
  13. Who is the President?
  14. What did you eat for your last meal?  -Was it breakfast, lunch or dinner?
  15. What is the name of your children?  Grandchildren?  Pet?
  16. What is your address?
  17. What are those three words?
  18. Spell W-O-R-L-D.  Spell it backwards; D-L-R-O-W
  19. In increments of 7, subtract from 100.

Add up the incorrect answers.  If 1-3 are incorrect, they are appx at Stage 1/2. 4-8 incorrect answers, they are appx at Stage 3/5. 9-18 incorrect answers, they are appx at Stage 6/7.  In today’s terms, Stage 7 is the most severe and final stage, at least it was a few years ago.  

What Is True For Me:

Regarding this test, the answers my Mother gave the Neurologist never changed for several years.  She would answer most of these questions accurately and it was frustrating because it didn’t represent how forgetful she was throughout her day. It wasn’t a perfect test to determine her impairments by any means, but it was all we had at the time.

I was the only one who closely monitored how Mom managed her day or didn’t manage her day, i.e., fix a meal, keep appointments, do laundry, dress well or dress at all, stay clean, keep the house clean, take medications on time, ability to converse and how much of the conversation was repetitive. 

I trusted my experience and observations of Mom more than someone else’s opinion, test included.

Other people or friends who spent an hour or so with Mom over lunch, dinner, or an afternoon visit, did not, could not see the missteps of Mom’s day to day behaviors. Mom was very good at fooling people during any visit.  She was masterful actually, making me look rather over-reactive and foolish. That wasn’t her intent, but nevertheless, I felt the daggers from people who didn’t want to see or hear of Mom’s decline. I learned to get used to the daggers and opposing opinions, while still trusting my own judgment about Mom.

My two messages today – 1) trust your discernment of your loved one’s cognitive impairments from the information you see and receive.

2) Take the next step that is in front of you when you find yourself stalled or feeling like you’ve been hit with a stun gun. Stop. Breathe. Plan B for me is do what is in front of me, open the mail, open email, make that phone call I had written down earlier, or if I’m driving, step on the gas, turn right, turn left, step on the break. Break it all down.

Concentrate on the next step. Have tunnel vision. It will lead to the next step, and the next. It’s the right step. If it wasn’t the right step, it wouldn’t be in front of you. Trust it and know that it’s enough for now. It will keep you moving you forward.