Improve Your Assessment with a Memory Screen

Screening for memory issues can provide beneficial information for function and health of seniors.

Photo by Anthony Metcalfe on Unsplash

Clinicians are always looking for ways to discover deficits in order to educate safety and expected progress of their patients. It is easy to overlook screening for memory decline in home care, when you are focused on immediate physical safety and function. Seniors who are recovering from an illness, or dealing with chronic health issues, need to have abilities of attention to detail, short term memory, and long term memory for success. It is helpful to have a quick and easy to use tool to help identify possible deficits, in order to provide thorough care for our patients.

The SLUMS memory screen can be a great addition to your assessment.

The Saint Louis University Memory Status Exam (SLUMS) is free to access, requires minimal time, and is easy to perform and rate. Here is a link with a training video and downloadable exam. The SLUMS is appreciated for testing executive function, which has demonstrated increased sensitivity to help discover mild cognitive impairment. This tool could also be used to provide data to help a patient see their need for assistance, and/or to demonstrate improvement as they recover.

A memory screen can help a person receive timely intervention:

Several years ago I found myself concerned about my mother’s cognition. She was always an avid reader, and when she came to visit, I noticed she was on the same page of her book for 2 days. I was able to utilize the results of a memory screen assessment to help convince my father to have my mother tested. We all know in health care that the sooner a person is assessed, the sooner they will receive treatment, and early intervention is best practise. A memory screen can help provide a nudge to pay greater attention to health, or to pursue appropriate care.

What can place someone at risk for memory issues?

Many things can place someone at greater risk for cognitive decline. (CDC) Inactivity, prolonged stress, an unhealthy diet, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, genetic factors, depression, physical frailty, and other issues can increase your risk. There are things we can do to minimize our risk, and to improve our memory as we age.

General tips to help improve memory:

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Stay hydrated.

Get a good amount of sleep.

Exercise regularly.

Limit or find healthy ways to deal with stress.

Keep learning knew things.

Play memory stimulating games regularly

1. Games for Mild Cognitive Impairment (affiliate link)

2. Games for adult memory challenge (affiliate link)

Take the time to teach yourself to use memory strategies in your daily activities.

7. Check out this Physician based book on memory strategies (affiliate link)

Here is another great overview of the SLUMS exam (Verywell Health, 2019).

Improve your evaluation with professional peer reviewed handouts: Check out this link for an evaluation/ Start of Care packet of senior focussed handouts for clear safety and activity instruction at

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I would love to hear what you think! Do you screen memory regularly? Do you have any other tips for assessing or improving memory? Subscribe to my blog for a few printable FREEBIES, and senior health care information and tips.

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