What is the benefit of a Neuropsychological testing?

Posted by DanL @tunared, Mar 8 9:20pm

my wife has an upcoming Neuropsychological test and is very nervous (and very anxious) about the test. She (and I) would like to know what is the benefit to her for taking this type of test? She knows her memory is not what it was 5-10 years ago and doesn't understand why she should take the test. She thinks they are using her as a guinea pig with this type of test. I cannot provide her with any benefits that would come from taking the test. Can anyone help?

@tunared, I think the unknown always causes us concern. Here is some information I found that may help explain why the tests are done and possible treatments to help your wife. I would think the main benefit would be to help understand what's going on with your health when you feel something is wrong.

Neuropsychological Tests: https://www.webmd.com/brain/neuropsychological-test

Can you let us know how the tests go for your wife and what you learn?

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I like John's reply. I would add that the tests might aid in developing a treatment program depending on the diagnosis.

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Hello! When my mom was diagnosed with her initial memory problems, I didn't know there was such thing as a Neuropsychologist who is qualified to conduct tests of memory and thinking. Looking back, it would have helped to get some clarity by an expert. The tests are really nothing to be afraid of and if there is a reason for you to be concerned about your wife, it's better to start getting information about her and her future as soon as possible for planning purposes. Just tell her the test is quick, painless, and you can go to lunch afterwards! Hope that helps! Virginia

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Hello @tunared I am Scott and over the years my wife had regular neuropsychological testing done for her (and I might add for us family members). While I was my wife's primary caregiver and husband of 40+ years, I often did not realize the smaller changes and challenges she was having. These tests helped my 'see' them and be able to better interact with her. Often times the results of these tests also allowed her neuro-oncologist to alert me to future changes in her that might be coming and areas to watch for. This turned out to be a godsend when it was identified that she should quit driving.

These tests also gave us a baseline to look back upon as time passed and we could well see what had not changed as well as what might have.

At first my wife had some anxiety over taking the tests as she was worried what it might show, but quickly got over that and came to be far more comfortable with them after her first turn with them. These tests also were helpful in allowing our adult children to understand what their mom was experiencing (we had given them HIPPA permissions) and took a burden off me of having to interpret what I was told to communicate it back to them. It also held my desire to look at her journey through rose-colored glasses in check and added some much needed (for me) reality checking.

All in all we viewed them as a strong value-added aspect of her care journey.

Strength, courage, and peace

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Thanks everyone for your comments. My wife of 52+ years has gone through all the normal physical (MRI, blood, ENT, etc) tests and the results from her Neurologist is she has MCI. The Neurologist has also stated that: 1, there is no cure; 2, no one can project how the disease will progress; 3, (and my favorite) if you have seen one case of MCI, then you have only seen one case of MCI because each MCI patients is unique.
My wife did have the neuropsych tests back in 2014 & 2015 but nothing really beneficial came from the tests. Other than MCI, she is very healthy and exercises at the gym 4-5 days a week. I do 99% of the driving and we are enjoying everyday by doing something fun and/or different. Some of the psychologists she has seen want to try her on various drugs but she has decided not to be a guinea pig for the drug companies. If her neurologist is correct and there is no current medication proven to cure or slow the progression of MCI, then why spend 3-6 anxious hours taking a neuropsych test?

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Hi! I had missed the part about her already receiving a diagnosis of MCI. Sorry about that! I think you ask a very good question. I do have some contacts in this field and I will ask them, ok? I'll get back with you! Virginia

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@turnared, DanL, Congratulations finding the best ever place to get great support from folks who have or are experiencing similar life changes. My mother was diagnosed in the late '80's w/altzheimers. We knew we were looking at cognitive issues, but had no real concept what any of this meant. I was her caregiver, so she and I went to Mayo Jax soon after it opened in JAX. Dr. Graf-Radford was involved with altzheimer research in Jax., some of the first of its kind.

It was such a great help for her and me. They were wonderful helping us understand as we could what was happening, some of the causes, some possible treatments or other assistance. They helped me with both our needs as time went on, with her fears and my anger and fear and all the everything rolled into this time.

So, I did find it helpful for her and for me. I love the inclusion of family members. If that were possible then, I'd grab it. Might have saved my familial relationships. My son and I were the only family who cared for her during the 12 years of her illness….Had they been included in tests and medical reports, I do believe it would have been a positive improvement. And these tests did help her understand better what was happening, helped her better accept the changes she saw. Helped us both…..

So, yes, DanL, as one who's dealt with some of the issues you and your wife are and will be learning about, establishing the baseline w/these tests and and having the truly caring pros available to guide you along the way is invaluable. I wish I had this Connect online support at the time. What a wonderful gift it is to have all these folks who understand in a very special, personal way what you and your family are experiencing.

Enjoy this time with her, and the children…..especially as we come our of these horrid months of isolation. Take advantage of every thing positive offered from the medical profession. I am so impressed with the way Mayo works and has helped me with my own health issues, I can tell you the benefits and support are invaluable. If you have access to this type of support from your medical community, take full advantage! You and she deserve it!

Blessings on this journey and may you have guidance and help along the way. elizabeth

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Hello I am a nurse forced into early retirement due to my diagnosis of early onset dementia. I am still able to care for myself drive and I keep very busy using my brain playing games, socializing with family and friends volunteering assistance to ones in need, draw, paint, refinishing furniture, sewing, rock tumbling, flower growing, yard work.. just anything and everything plus I try travel a lot . My diagnosis was initially from neuropsychologist referred to from my neurologist due to my memory loss and struggles. Work was really showing a dramatic change in thought patterns my words won’t come to me. But when I slow down and think it will come or I can brush it to the side and nobody notices. It’s worse when I get rushed or stressed it’s almost like I’m a foreign person trying to speak English but can’t think of the word. And my numbers really get affected. My husband is having a hard time accepting my problem and forces me to do a lot even though I mess up cooking and taking care of bills for example can be herendous at times. But I figure it keeps me sharper trial and error but at least I try and everyone makes mistakes right, I still fit in. Sometimes I get frustrated that I’ve been dealt this hand in life, but as the neuropsychology analyst told me when she give me the initial blow, “ITS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE. “ which at the time I thought well that’s something to say.. but now I see.. I need to and can live the best life I can and that again is all anyone can do. It’s my life sentence. My MRI Pet scan was the confirming point and then my career was demolished. Life as I knew it had to change. And it changes a little all the time, I wonder when I won’t fit in…. but until then I’m gonna keep on doing as much as I can. So yes them tests are beneficial in diagnosis sometimes.

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@anonimouse

Hello I am a nurse forced into early retirement due to my diagnosis of early onset dementia. I am still able to care for myself drive and I keep very busy using my brain playing games, socializing with family and friends volunteering assistance to ones in need, draw, paint, refinishing furniture, sewing, rock tumbling, flower growing, yard work.. just anything and everything plus I try travel a lot . My diagnosis was initially from neuropsychologist referred to from my neurologist due to my memory loss and struggles. Work was really showing a dramatic change in thought patterns my words won’t come to me. But when I slow down and think it will come or I can brush it to the side and nobody notices. It’s worse when I get rushed or stressed it’s almost like I’m a foreign person trying to speak English but can’t think of the word. And my numbers really get affected. My husband is having a hard time accepting my problem and forces me to do a lot even though I mess up cooking and taking care of bills for example can be herendous at times. But I figure it keeps me sharper trial and error but at least I try and everyone makes mistakes right, I still fit in. Sometimes I get frustrated that I’ve been dealt this hand in life, but as the neuropsychology analyst told me when she give me the initial blow, “ITS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE. “ which at the time I thought well that’s something to say.. but now I see.. I need to and can live the best life I can and that again is all anyone can do. It’s my life sentence. My MRI Pet scan was the confirming point and then my career was demolished. Life as I knew it had to change. And it changes a little all the time, I wonder when I won’t fit in…. but until then I’m gonna keep on doing as much as I can. So yes them tests are beneficial in diagnosis sometimes.

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Hi @anonimouse Nice to see you here on Mayo Connect! Lovely photo! I am sorry to read of your diagnosis and applaud your attitude, acceptance, and continuing to work on keeping as many balls in the air as you can!

Your post reminded me of another aspect of the benefits of my wife's neuropsychological testing. The 'knowing'! Not knowing and always wondering was far harder on her and us than once we all knew what was going on medically. She always found the times of not knowing and the times of waiting on results as to be far worse and harder than dealing with the reality once she and we knew it.

As my wife's husband I did need to attune myself to listen for her to say 'no'. Early on we were always in the 'try again' mode, but as time progressed and her journey continued I learned to accept when she'd say 'no' to me about some task, chore, or job she had been doing. I would often see a very positive change in her as she could put that challenge aside and continue to be happier doing those things she was able to continue to master and continued to bring her some measure of happiness. As my wife's neuro-oncologist used to remind me often 'change is inevitable. Accepting that can be the hardest part.'

Strength, courage, and peace!

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@tunared

Thanks everyone for your comments. My wife of 52+ years has gone through all the normal physical (MRI, blood, ENT, etc) tests and the results from her Neurologist is she has MCI. The Neurologist has also stated that: 1, there is no cure; 2, no one can project how the disease will progress; 3, (and my favorite) if you have seen one case of MCI, then you have only seen one case of MCI because each MCI patients is unique.
My wife did have the neuropsych tests back in 2014 & 2015 but nothing really beneficial came from the tests. Other than MCI, she is very healthy and exercises at the gym 4-5 days a week. I do 99% of the driving and we are enjoying everyday by doing something fun and/or different. Some of the psychologists she has seen want to try her on various drugs but she has decided not to be a guinea pig for the drug companies. If her neurologist is correct and there is no current medication proven to cure or slow the progression of MCI, then why spend 3-6 anxious hours taking a neuropsych test?

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Hi @tunared I wanted to respond to the last line of your post: "If her neurologist is correct and there is no current medication proven to cure or slow the progression of MCI, then why spend 3-6 anxious hours taking a neuropsych test?"

Speaking from my wife's experiences with these tests I observed that her only real anxiety was before the test, but that once participating she quickly lost her anxiety as she focused on the tests themselves.

Also in her case there was never any medicine or medical intervention that would cure or improve her brain cancer. We knew that, but realized the value of these tests was in their ability to help her, our adult children, and me understand and live the highest quality lives we could given her and our circumstances. I cannot emphasize enough how beneficial the findings of her neuropsychological tests were to me as her caregiver. They helped me formulate, plan, and then execute the very best life and care paths for her as I possibly could. Prior to those tests I was just stumbling around in the dark trying to guess which way was best for us to go.

Strength, courage, and peace

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@virginianaeve

Hi! I had missed the part about her already receiving a diagnosis of MCI. Sorry about that! I think you ask a very good question. I do have some contacts in this field and I will ask them, ok? I'll get back with you! Virginia

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So far, everyone who has responded to you here that the Neuropsychological exam has benefit, has been 100% correct. I consulted with two experts in the field and they explained the benefits far outweigh any reasons to avoid the testing. Diagnosis tools have come a long way since I dealt with this subject with my mom, and you would be wise to take advantage of this. It will help also with long term planning. Again, give her an incentive and tell her you will take her out for a lovely lunch afterwards!

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@IndianaScott

Hi @anonimouse Nice to see you here on Mayo Connect! Lovely photo! I am sorry to read of your diagnosis and applaud your attitude, acceptance, and continuing to work on keeping as many balls in the air as you can!

Your post reminded me of another aspect of the benefits of my wife's neuropsychological testing. The 'knowing'! Not knowing and always wondering was far harder on her and us than once we all knew what was going on medically. She always found the times of not knowing and the times of waiting on results as to be far worse and harder than dealing with the reality once she and we knew it.

As my wife's husband I did need to attune myself to listen for her to say 'no'. Early on we were always in the 'try again' mode, but as time progressed and her journey continued I learned to accept when she'd say 'no' to me about some task, chore, or job she had been doing. I would often see a very positive change in her as she could put that challenge aside and continue to be happier doing those things she was able to continue to master and continued to bring her some measure of happiness. As my wife's neuro-oncologist used to remind me often 'change is inevitable. Accepting that can be the hardest part.'

Strength, courage, and peace!

Jump to this post

@anonimouse, @indiana Scott, Hello! I love seeing your lovely picture. It's fun to see the face of the person we're chatting with and it helps to see your beautiful smile!

You are showing such strength and confidence dealing with your diagnosis. You know, your doctor was so right…it's not a death sentence…..it is a change in life sentence. It is a leaning experience, learning all about acceptance, recognition of the small and huge changes you and your husband and friends see every day, changes you may not realize at first or may not understand or may be challenging. You're such a strong person and it looks like you are doing well during this learning time.

You know, I have for several years had such a tough time standing to prepare and cook, cutting and preparation is tough with some of my issues, and I just can't cook anymore. Well, ok. That's one big change I and my son had to address…….we did and began finding other good ways have good meals. I missed it and my family missed my cooking, wanting me to keep it up and be stronger. I did it as long and as much as I could. When I got to the point I simply could not be happy cooking, I said so and we made other arrangements. We recognized the changes and made changes in how we handled the cooking. It worked so well, I was happier and felt more secure so others around me felt better, too.

No one starved. We all had to get used to come a new way of doing what needed to be done. That's all. I creates a reason for you to all work together to find new ways to accomplish what you needed.

I remember when my mother had the same problem you have and was so frustrated when she couldn't remember her recipe or what she needed to put into something she was making for lunch. She forgot how to cook, how to do other things. When we saw it was time to make a change, we adjusted and she could relax, not feel so anxious to make herself do the things she always did and do them the same way. She just couldn't….so we did it a different way or someone else helped and did it for us.

You know, it was difficult but we finally figured it out and she was so much happier. We all were because of the reduced stress since she couldn't do what we were trying to help her do!

You sound so good. I think your message and your input with folks who are experiencing some of the same things you and your husband are. will be very helpful for them. As a nurse, I know this is really important to you, to help others. Well, you did with your message.

Look forward to hearing more about how you and your husband are handling these issues as they arise. Scott….o
Blessings to you and everyone in your family. elizabeth

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