One common misunderstanding is the difference between mild memory loss and memory lapses and dementia. Dementia is considered a more serious issue, and deals with memory loss that is not typical of that conjoined with the natural stages of aging. Dementia typically affects those in the later stages of their life, such as the elderly, and needs to be assessed when it is suspected.
When seeking medical assistance for dementia, you may notice the doctor performing a neurological exam called the Abbreviated Mental Test Score, or the AMTS. AMTS, along with mini-mental state examinations, can be used to quickly determine whether one is suffering from dementia or just simple short-term memory loss.
When performing AMTS, one will typically ask a series of questions that should be of general knowledge or personal importance to the patient. For example, questions such as age, time, and date of birth are typically asked in order to get an idea of how coherent the patient is. Doctors will often ask certain questions that require the patient to perform a task, such as “count backwards from 10 to 1” or they may ask the patient to repeat a spoken phrase. This gives the doctor an idea of the cognitive impairment that the patient is experiencing, and can help them assess the seriousness of the situation and the type of treatment and medical assistance the patient should receive.
Abbreviated Mental Test Score is typically used in older adults, but can be used on patients of any age. This test is used more often to test for dementia instead of simple progressive memory loss.