The Saint Louis University Mental Status (SLUMS) test is an assessment tool for dementia and mild cognitive impairment. The test evaluates memory, attention, executive function, and more.

Dementia refers to a group of chronic disorders that includes Alzheimer’s disease. These disorders severely affect a person’s memory and cognitive ability and impact their daily activities. Dementia affects about 10% of adults aged 70 or older.

Several screening tests may identify early warning signs of dementia. The SLUMS test consists of 11 questions that cover memory and attention. The results of this test may indicate a person is experiencing cognitive impairment and requires further evaluation.

This article discusses the SLUMS test in more detail, including who it is for, how it works, interpreting scores, and its efficacy. The article also explores dementia diagnosis and treatment.

To discover more evidence-based information and resources for Alzheimer’s & dementia, visit our dedicated hub.

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The SLUMS test may help people identify signs of dementia and mild cognitive impairment.

Researchers first developed this test with a group of veterans over 60 years old. The questions in the SLUMS test evaluate:

  • memory
  • attention span
  • visual-spatial function
  • orientation, or level of awareness
  • executive functioning, which refers to cognitive processes such as emotional regulation and organizing information to perform daily tasks

Individuals who receive a lower score on the SLUMS test may have dementia. However, factors such as education and cultural background may also influence scores. Therefore, individuals who receive a low SLUMS score may undergo further testing before a healthcare professional makes a diagnosis.

The SLUMS exam takes around 7 minutes to complete. It includes 11 questions that examine categories such as orientation and memory. A few examples of these questions are:

  • What day of the week is it?
  • What state are we in?
  • Please name as many animals as you can in 1 minute.

During the SLUMS test, the administrator will also use verbal tests to examine memory. Early in the test, they will recite a list of five objects. They will later ask the test taker to recall those five items.

Individuals taking the SLUMS test also complete a drawing portion. The test administrator will ask the test taker to draw a clock face with the hour and minute hand set at a specific time. This portion of the test evaluates visual and spatial cognitive function.

During the SLUMS test, individuals answer as many questions as possible to the best of their ability. Their score indicates whether they are showing signs of cognitive impairment.

The SLUMS test contains a total of 30 points. There are two different scoring structures, which depend on an individual’s level of education.

For individuals who have not completed a high school education, the SLUMS score structure is as follows:

  • 25–30: Indicates regular cognitive function.
  • 20–24: Indicates mild cognitive impairment.
  • 1–19: Indicates dementia.

For individuals who have completed a high school education, the SLUMS score structure is as follows:

  • 27–30: Indicates regular cognitive function.
  • 21–26: Indicates mild cognitive impairment.
  • 1–20: Indicates dementia.

A healthcare professional can provide an accurate assessment of a SLUMS score. They may also recommend further testing to diagnose dementia or cognitive impairment.

Research suggests that the SLUMS test is effective for identifying cognitive decline. In one Polish study, the SLUMS test showed superior performance over another common dementia screening test called the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).

The researchers also noted that the SLUMS test can accurately identify signs of mild cognitive impairment. This sets it apart from other screening tests and makes it especially useful for recognizing early signs of dementia.

However, other research suggests that the SLUMS test may not be as sensitive as the MMSE when measuring 1-year cognitive changes that influence functional abilities. Another recent study also suggested that the SLUMS test may have other disadvantages and further conclusive research into the efficacy of the test is necessary.

Therefore, a person should ensure they speak with a healthcare professional about further diagnostic tests for dementia.

Although the SLUMS test can be useful in many cases, it is not the only diagnostic tool for dementia. Medical professionals use a variety of screening tests that may include:

Rarely, they may also conduct genetic testing when screening for dementia if a person has a strong family history of Alzheimer’s disease or early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Certain genetic mutations can cause or increase a person’s risk of developing dementia.

Screening tests may also involve brain imaging to rule out other causes of dementia-like symptoms. Head trauma, excess fluid in the brain, stroke, or tumors may lead to cognitive impairment.

Learn more about cognitive tests for dementia.

There are many different types of dementia, and a doctor will treat the condition on an individual basis. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition. This means that cognitive decline continues and worsens over time.

Certain medications may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. However, they cannot cure this condition permanently.

Practicing a healthy lifestyle may help prevent dementia. Following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking, if applicable, may help reduce the chance of developing dementia and experiencing cognitive decline.

The SLUMS test is a screening tool that may identify signs of cognitive impairment. In some cases, these signs may indicate that an individual is living with dementia.

This test includes 11 questions that evaluate memory, attention, visual-spatial function, and executive functioning. A lower score on the SLUMS test suggests the person may be experiencing cognitive decline or dementia.

People who think they or a loved one has dementia or cognitive impairment should consult a healthcare professional. A doctor can assess a person’s dementia risk and symptoms during diagnosis and create a treatment plan for each individual.