What is the benefit of a Neuropsychological testing?

Posted by DanL @tunared, Mar 8, 2021

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?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Caregivers: Dementia group.

@IndianaScott

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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Scott, so well said! I echo every word….blessings and thank you for sharing. You are helping me as the one who walked with my mother on this journey with MCI. It's been several years, but after 12 years of working with her and the many changes we we both expeienced, I am still learning more about my own health and growth and healing from those years. Mayo is helping me so much in this healing as well. We didn't have support groups and I didn't have this wonderful resource, so I'm playing 'catch up' at this point…..but getting there!

Take care and enjoy this day! elizabeth

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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, I add my welcome to you and appreciate your input in this discussion. Do you find neuropsychological testing stressful?

It can be really hard for a partner to accept the diagnosis. They don't want things to change. Who does, right? Do you know about Mayo Clinic HABIT program? HABIT stands for Healthy Action to Benefit Independence & Thinking®. It is a 10 day program for individuals who have received the diagnosis of MCI and a partner to learn the best skills for maintaining independence in spite of memory problems, improving self-esteem, and coping with the emotions that arise for the person and their family with the uncertainty that comes with a diagnosis of MCI. The program focuses on adjustment to the diagnosis of MCI, adaptation to cognitive and functional limitations, brain wellness education, physical and cognitive exercise, and stress/emotional management.

@tunared and @anonimouse, this may be something to look into. One of the silver linings of COVID is that the program is now offered online, so you don't have to live near or travel to Mayo Clinic to participate. You can find out more about the program and the virtual version in these posts:
– HABIT Program Overview: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/living-with-mild-cognitive-impairment-mci/tab/resource-5394/
– HABIT goes Virtual! https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/living-with-mild-cognitive-impairment-mci/newsfeed-post/habit-goes-virtual/

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Colleen, @colleenyoung …This is fantastic! I'm so glad to know about it.
Blessings and may every day be filled with sunshine! elizabeth

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My wife, 77 yrs old had progressive memory loss for last few years. Recently her physician during her annual wellness examination did cognitive test for memory with typical testing with Clock & time and three word repeat test for memory. She failed both. Her eldest sister died of Alzheimer's disease. She (my wife) had a MRI of brain showed mild atrophy. Her Doctor 6 months ago started her on Aricept which she is tolerating well . May be she is little better and takes care of herself and regular chores sometime may be not very correctly. She has refused Neuropsychological tests which doctor asked for recent visit.. I am a retired physician. I know what to expect. So far we live independently with no problems. At this stage I really not sure what we can accomplish with additional testing. Do you agree or have any comments?

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@doclax

My wife, 77 yrs old had progressive memory loss for last few years. Recently her physician during her annual wellness examination did cognitive test for memory with typical testing with Clock & time and three word repeat test for memory. She failed both. Her eldest sister died of Alzheimer's disease. She (my wife) had a MRI of brain showed mild atrophy. Her Doctor 6 months ago started her on Aricept which she is tolerating well . May be she is little better and takes care of herself and regular chores sometime may be not very correctly. She has refused Neuropsychological tests which doctor asked for recent visit.. I am a retired physician. I know what to expect. So far we live independently with no problems. At this stage I really not sure what we can accomplish with additional testing. Do you agree or have any comments?

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Hello:
I am am Lewy Body dementia patient. Early onset – diagnosed at 57. Now 3 years into it.
It’s great that your wife can help with things. I get a good feelin when i feel that i have contributed.

For me – the neuropsych tests are used to
1) look at the areas of the brain that are involved – for me executive functioning is the main area with deficits in other areas which can help steer toward one diagnosis
2) track progression – I have progressed from mild impairment to moderate impairment

At some point, you have to think of putting themselves through hours of testing annually. This is on my mind as well at this point.

Stay safe and well.
Larry H.

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@larryh123

Hello:
I am am Lewy Body dementia patient. Early onset – diagnosed at 57. Now 3 years into it.
It’s great that your wife can help with things. I get a good feelin when i feel that i have contributed.

For me – the neuropsych tests are used to
1) look at the areas of the brain that are involved – for me executive functioning is the main area with deficits in other areas which can help steer toward one diagnosis
2) track progression – I have progressed from mild impairment to moderate impairment

At some point, you have to think of putting themselves through hours of testing annually. This is on my mind as well at this point.

Stay safe and well.
Larry H.

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Thank you for your comments.

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@doclax

My wife, 77 yrs old had progressive memory loss for last few years. Recently her physician during her annual wellness examination did cognitive test for memory with typical testing with Clock & time and three word repeat test for memory. She failed both. Her eldest sister died of Alzheimer's disease. She (my wife) had a MRI of brain showed mild atrophy. Her Doctor 6 months ago started her on Aricept which she is tolerating well . May be she is little better and takes care of herself and regular chores sometime may be not very correctly. She has refused Neuropsychological tests which doctor asked for recent visit.. I am a retired physician. I know what to expect. So far we live independently with no problems. At this stage I really not sure what we can accomplish with additional testing. Do you agree or have any comments?

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Hello @doclax I'm Scott and I'm glad you found Mayo Connect. I found Connect when I was struggling to find solid support/advice for me as a long-term caregiver.

My wife fought a war with brain cancer for 14 1/2 years with many of her symptoms being similar to those of dementia patients, such as was the case with my MIL. Her neuro docs also recommended neuropsych testing for her and while it was not her favorite part of her visits, she did agree to do them. In talking to her when she was deciding, she told me there were two things that motivated her to do them. First, she knew the results helped me, as her caregiver, understand where things stood and what changes had occurred since the last test. Kind of a road map of where we were and how fast or in what direction we were now headed. It did help me as kind of an early-warning system for what might be coming our way. Her second motivation was the fact she was treated at Mayo and as a teaching hospital, she hoped her results would someday help other patients, doctors, researchers, and caregivers in similar situations to hers.

I know every patient and their journeys are unique, but I share my wife's experiences in the hopes it will help someone along the line here.

Strength, Courage, & Peace

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@IndianaScott

Hello @doclax I'm Scott and I'm glad you found Mayo Connect. I found Connect when I was struggling to find solid support/advice for me as a long-term caregiver.

My wife fought a war with brain cancer for 14 1/2 years with many of her symptoms being similar to those of dementia patients, such as was the case with my MIL. Her neuro docs also recommended neuropsych testing for her and while it was not her favorite part of her visits, she did agree to do them. In talking to her when she was deciding, she told me there were two things that motivated her to do them. First, she knew the results helped me, as her caregiver, understand where things stood and what changes had occurred since the last test. Kind of a road map of where we were and how fast or in what direction we were now headed. It did help me as kind of an early-warning system for what might be coming our way. Her second motivation was the fact she was treated at Mayo and as a teaching hospital, she hoped her results would someday help other patients, doctors, researchers, and caregivers in similar situations to hers.

I know every patient and their journeys are unique, but I share my wife's experiences in the hopes it will help someone along the line here.

Strength, Courage, & Peace

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Thank you for your input.

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@IndianaScott

Hello @doclax I'm Scott and I'm glad you found Mayo Connect. I found Connect when I was struggling to find solid support/advice for me as a long-term caregiver.

My wife fought a war with brain cancer for 14 1/2 years with many of her symptoms being similar to those of dementia patients, such as was the case with my MIL. Her neuro docs also recommended neuropsych testing for her and while it was not her favorite part of her visits, she did agree to do them. In talking to her when she was deciding, she told me there were two things that motivated her to do them. First, she knew the results helped me, as her caregiver, understand where things stood and what changes had occurred since the last test. Kind of a road map of where we were and how fast or in what direction we were now headed. It did help me as kind of an early-warning system for what might be coming our way. Her second motivation was the fact she was treated at Mayo and as a teaching hospital, she hoped her results would someday help other patients, doctors, researchers, and caregivers in similar situations to hers.

I know every patient and their journeys are unique, but I share my wife's experiences in the hopes it will help someone along the line here.

Strength, Courage, & Peace

Jump to this post

Thank you for sharing your experience with this topic. My husband doesn't agree easily for any testing and doubts the results when he is tested. In fact, he tells me that he is "just as he has always been" and I "am the one changing!" I suppose he is partially right as we all change as the years go by. We are soon to be going in for another check-in/evaluation with his Mayo neurologist and I am hoping to find out how far we have advanced on our Parkinson/Lewy Body Dementia journey. Though we have had several Zoom appointments over the last year and a half, I find the in person visits reveal more information to the doctors. I wish my husband, who is a retired educational leader, would have the same attitudes towards testing as your wife. It would be so helpful to me. Take care and thanks again for sharing your experience.

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@hbjuniperflat

Thank you for sharing your experience with this topic. My husband doesn't agree easily for any testing and doubts the results when he is tested. In fact, he tells me that he is "just as he has always been" and I "am the one changing!" I suppose he is partially right as we all change as the years go by. We are soon to be going in for another check-in/evaluation with his Mayo neurologist and I am hoping to find out how far we have advanced on our Parkinson/Lewy Body Dementia journey. Though we have had several Zoom appointments over the last year and a half, I find the in person visits reveal more information to the doctors. I wish my husband, who is a retired educational leader, would have the same attitudes towards testing as your wife. It would be so helpful to me. Take care and thanks again for sharing your experience.

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My pleasure, @hbjuniperflat I wish you all the best with your follow-ups! Let me know if you have any other questions as I am always willing to share what we learned during our journey,
Strength, Courage, & Peace

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@larryh123

Hello:
I am am Lewy Body dementia patient. Early onset – diagnosed at 57. Now 3 years into it.
It’s great that your wife can help with things. I get a good feelin when i feel that i have contributed.

For me – the neuropsych tests are used to
1) look at the areas of the brain that are involved – for me executive functioning is the main area with deficits in other areas which can help steer toward one diagnosis
2) track progression – I have progressed from mild impairment to moderate impairment

At some point, you have to think of putting themselves through hours of testing annually. This is on my mind as well at this point.

Stay safe and well.
Larry H.

Jump to this post

My husband has been through the neuro-psyche testing at least three times. He dreads it for days before it actually happens. I try to help him with the anxiety and try to provide some coping skills (this is not a test to enter college- just enjoy the time you are with the testers, etc ). He did tell them he would like to skip the math portion from now on and that was fine with them and with me. As his caregiver and as a former teacher, the testing is very beneficial to me. It does help with getting a handle on the progression of the disease and takes away some guesswork of the pace of decline. It helps to find things he can do well as it identifies areas of strength and helps me to capitalize on them. It also provides ideas of how to help him cope as some skills become weaker….and it helps me to try to be more patient and compassionate…some days are easier than others. I just keep reminding myself of how grateful I am to have had the once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of this amazing man's life. He has taken very good care of our family, and I treasure this time to be his help mate through this part of our journey.

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I loved your comment "I just keep reminding myself of how grateful I am …." My wife is in the late stage of Alzheimer's Disease and I love her more than ever just the way she is. I put a note on her mirror "How great is God's goodness to have given you to me to love for a lifetime!"

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