Memory Test


Registered User
Oct 25, 2005
My mum has now received a diagnosis of AD and has been prescribed Reminyl. I understand the Australian Government doesn't subsidise this drug on the Federal Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) passed the first six months unless there is an improvement of 2 points on the MMI. Mum’s gerontologist intimated to me I do my best to try for 2 points improvement with mum. We have an appointment in 3 months for a ‘trial’ MMI and then 6 months for the real deal.

I want to ask everyone's advice about memory tests. Do you know of any techniques to practice for a memory test? Is there something that you’ve done over a period of time? You know the usual thing, what’s the date/season/country/prime minister’s name… write a sentence, copy a diagram. Mum is pretty aware of her diagnosis but finds all the questions a bit confusing and she gets a bit flustered.

You’ll be glad to know I’m not crying every day now. I know things will get worse but I’m doing my best to keep on top of things. TP is a great resource and support.


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Hello Ruby
good luck with the medication and tests for your Mum.

My own feelings are that there is no point in trying to practice for memory tests. For someone with dementia, they either still know something on the day, or they don't. Situation may change the next day, frustratingly.

The nature of dementia is one of loss of short term memory, and the inability to learn 'new' things. That also leads to loss of confidence, panicking, agitation, and sometimes anger - at their own inability, or on the person they perceive as putting pressure on them.

If reinforcing of knowledge works for her at present, then keep on doing that, reminding her daily of the month, etc, but not in an obvious way. If it doesn't, then I think you would be on to a loser trying to coach her.

Sounds awful, is awful, but is a fact of life, in my experience.

N.B. But there is never any harm in trying anything that you think might work, as long as you keep your senses tuned for how that affects your Mum, and adjust what you are doing accordingly.


Registered User
Mar 12, 2005
West Sussex
Hello Ruby

Glad to hear you are coping better at the moment.

When my Mum was first put on galantamine she improved greatly for a year or so and her score increased initially, but as Bruce says, that can all change from day to day.

Take it slowly step by step and enjoy the moment, we all worry about what will happen in the future, but this disease is so unpredictable it scuppers any plans for the future .

I long ago found it is best to live for the day and go with the flow, good or bad.

Mum used to say if you have a problem and can do something about it, do it, if you can't, make the best of it.

Good luck with your Mum.



Registered User
Dec 11, 2003
Tully, Qld, Australia
Hi Ruby,

A rather belated welcome to TP as I've been off line for a few months. Great to see another Australian address though.

Both my parents have AD at varying stages. They completed their 'tests' at home and I only told them that a visitor was dropping around for coffee and a chat when he arrived at the house. The questions were casually dropped in to the conversation. Predictably my father did very well because he reads the paper avidly so he was up on the date and Tonly Blair's antics etc. My mother scored 1 point, which was probably one point more than I expected.

It's all going to depend on whether your mother is having a 'good' day or not and how anxious she feels and whether she feels comfortable with the 'tester'. I'd been inclined not to mention it too often or too far in advance in case she feels pressured.

I really don't know if coaching is going to help a great deal, if at all. You could try mentioning the month and the fact that it's a lovely autumn day [or whatever] or that the PM, John Howard's had his hair cut/twisted his ankle power walking, etc. As Bruce said, it all comes down to the moment unfortunately.

Good luck! Do let us know how it goes at the time.



Registered User
Jun 2, 2005
Los Angeles, USA
Jude said:
It's all going to depend on whether your mother is having a 'good' day or not and how anxious she feels and whether she feels comfortable with the 'tester'.
I whole-heartedly agree with this. My mom's performance on the mini-mental exam at various times seemed to largely be a function of how energetic and cheerful she was that day. She did best in instances with a doctor she liked, and with my husband escorting her to the appointment and being there as "cheer-leader." He is good at joking around and keeping things cheerful and upbeat. Some of how your mother does may depend of the tester. Someone who is low-key encouraging -- e.g., "don't think you can spell 'world' backward? could you just give it a try and see how far you get?" -- may get more correct reponses than a doctor who just takes "No, I can't do that" as the final answer.

Good luck,


Registered User
Aug 9, 2005
I'm an Aussie too. My Mum is in early stage dementia and my sisters (2 of them) and I discussed medication with her doctor. Mum is not eligible for medication unless we pay for it privately because she is already in dementia specific accommodation. This posed the question of whether we should pay for it privately, and all 3 of us were definitely in favour of it. However, the doctor convinced us that the medication (for Mum) was unlikely to produce any "real" results - as in noticeable improvements in memory, functioning, etc. and that variations could be the result of everyday fluctuations anyway, rather than the meds..

He (doctor) said we could certainly go ahead with the drug option, but that in his opinion, it would make little if any difference. We eventually decided (not without much heart and soul searching) to forgo the drug option. This has been a difficult decision. We don't want her to miss out on anything that could help, but equaly we don't want her to take something that won't help, just to make ourselves feel better.

I know this doesn't have a direct relationship to your post, but you might want to investigate further how useful the medication will be. Everyone is different, so our experience will not be the same as your's.

Whatever you decide, I agree with other posters that trying t improve memory test results may just be a formula for unhappiness.

Mum never ceases to amaze us with the things she remembers and the things she forgets. On Xmas Eve we had a big family get together (all children, grandchildren, etc.) and at the end of the day, my sister left Mum a big piece of Christmas Cake. As she (and Dad) were coming to us for Christmas (the next day!!), she asked me 147 thousand (maybe a slight exaggeration!) times if she should bring the cake. I said "yes" every time, because saying "no" to her suggestions seems to make it harder for her. Well, you will have guessed it - no cake on Christmas day and when I said "Did you bring the cake?" she said "What cake?".

Yet today (Boxing Day) my husband called in to see them at the Hostel because Dad had left his reading glasses behind at our house and he called to return them. He and Mum were talking about books. My husband said he had seen a number of books in the Hostel library by a writer called Cornwell, but he couldn't remember her other name. "Oh, yes" says Mum. "That's Patricia Cornwell - I like her books."

So AD is so unpredictable - it seems unlikely you can expect anything to positively improve her memory test raking skills and hope for a "correct" result on the day.

Best of luck with everything - caring for parents (family) with AD is hard on all of us.