If a patient of yours is exhibiting signs of cognitive decline or dementia, conduct the SLUMS Test to examine them. Depending on the results, have them endorsed for further examination for a proper diagnosis.

By Matt Olivares on Apr 08, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is the SLUMS Test?

The Saint Louis University Mental Status Test, or the SLUMS Test or SLUMS Exam for short, is one of the many cognitive screening tools used by healthcare providers to examine people suspected of having/experiencing symptoms of cognitive impairment, dementia, or the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease.

This test is an 11-item questionnaire that covers different facets of a person's cognitive function, such as memory, attention, orientation, language, spatial recognition, and more!

This test is quite popular, given that it is easy to administer. It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete (depending on the person) and can be conducted beyond a clinical setting.

Do note that the SLUMS Test is a screening tool. It is not meant to be used to diagnose people with cognitive decline or dementia. It's meant to evaluate a patient using a series of questions to see if they are exhibiting signs of experiencing cognitive decline or mild dementia. Depending on the results, the next step will always be to endorse them to specialists who can take your results as a reference, conduct more comprehensive examinations, and officially diagnose the examinee.

Now that you know what the SLUMS Test is about, it's time to learn how it's conducted and what it asks the examinee.

Printable SLUMS Test

Download this SLUMS Test and evaluate clients who have exhibited signs of cognitive decline.

How to use the SLUMS Test:

The SLUMS Test consists of 11 items, all of which are meant to be filled out by you, the examiner. What you will do is conduct the SLUMS Test like an interview. Before doing so, make sure to accomplish the clerical parts of the test sheet, indicating your name, the examinee's name, the exam date, the level of education the examinee has attained, and whether they are alert.

If you are wondering if it's important to note if they are alert, the answer is yes. If they are not alert, that might indicate cognitive decline. If they suddenly lose focus while you are asking them questions, that might also be a sign of cognitive decline and perhaps early signs of dementia or Alzheimer's Disease.

Once you are through with the clerical stuff, it's time to ask them the following questions:

  1. What day of the week is it? (1 point)
  2. What year is it? (1 point)
  3. What state/city are we in? (1 point)
  4. Please remember these five objects: apple, pen, tie, house, and car. I will ask you about these later. (This is not scored.)
  5. You have USD100. You're in a store and you decide to buy a dozen apples for USD3 and a tricycle for USD20.
  • How much did you spend? (1 point)
  • How much do you have left? (2 points)
  1. Please name as many animals as you can in 1 minute. The score will depend on how many they are able to name:
  • 0 to 4 animals (0 points)
  • 5-9 animals (1 point)
  • 10-14 animals (2 points)
  • 15+ animals (3 points)
  1. What are the five objects I asked you to remember? (1 point for each one named, so they can score a total of 5 points.)
  2. I am going to give you a series of numbers and I would like you to give them to me backward. For example, if I say 42, you would say 24.
  • 87 (0 points)
  • 649 (1 point)
  • 8537 (2 points)
  • They can only score up to 2 points for this number, so they have two opportunities to score.
  1. This is a clock face. Please put in the hour markers and the time at ten minutes to eleven o'clock. See attached for a larger clock.
  • Hand them the second sheet, which has the clock circle.
  • If the sequence of the hour markers is legible and correct, they get 2 points.
  • If they draw the clock hands to point at eleven o'clock, they get 2 points.
  • They can score up to 4 points for this number.
  1. Two-part number:
  • Please place an X in the triangle. (1 point)
  • Which of the above figures is the largest? (1 point)
  • This is also part of the second sheet.
  • They can score up to 2 points for this number.
  1. I am going to tell you a story. Please listen carefully because afterward, I'm going to ask you some questions about it.

Jill was a very successful stockbroker. She made a lot of money on the stock market. She then met Jack, a devastatingly handsome man. She married him and had three children. They lived in Chicago. She then stopped work and stayed home to bring up her children. When they were teenagers, she went back to work. She and Jack lived happily ever after.

  • What was the female's name? (2 points)
  • When did she go back to work? (2 points)
  • What work did she do? (2 points)
  • What state did she live in? (2 points)
  • They can score up to 8 points for this number.

How to score the SLUMS Test:

Now that you know the questions, it's time to know how to score it. For your benefit, in the previous section, we indicated the allocated points per question and how many points they can get per item. All you need to do is tally the scores based on their answers.

Once you have tallied the scores, refer to this score range to determine what to do. Do note that this takes into account their level of education.

Score Designations for the SLUMS Test

MNCD stands for Mild Neurocognitive Disorder.

Now, note that despite the score designations, this doesn't mean you can diagnose a test taker with MNCD or Dementia using this assessment tool. It can only help with detecting dementia signs. What you should do based on a low SLUMS score is endorse an examinee for further testing to check if they do have MNCD or Dementia so that they can get officially diagnosed and treated. Another assessment worth conducting is the Mini Mental State Examination, which can help detect mild cognitive impairment and more severe levels of cognitive function decline.

Always consider if the patient you're evaluating for cognitive impairment and potential Dementia has had a high school education or higher, or if they have less than that.

SLUMS Test example:

Since you know what the SLUMS Test is all about, how to use it, what the questions are, and how to go about the scores, it's best to see an accomplished sheet. Here's a filled-out SLUMS Test sample.

If the contents of this test look good to you and you feel like including this in your roster of clinical assessments will help you cover more ground as you work, then feel free to download a free printable SLUMS Test PDF on our platform! Given that two items in this test require the examinee to draw a clock and an X inside a triangle, this test is meant to be printed and accomplished physically.

Download this SLUMS Test Example (Sample) here:

SLUMS Test Example

When is it best to use the SLUMS Test?

If you're wondering about the most appropriate time to conduct the SLUMS Test, it's often used during the initial stages of a particular person's treatment for cognitive decline or dementia. This is especially the case during screening stages when the person or their loved ones suspect they are exhibiting signs of developing either one or both.

Remember that this is specifically for screening, not diagnosing, but when you are at the point where you can determine that they are possibly at risk of developing MNCD or Dementia, conduct the test, then endorse the examinee to another person for a more comprehensive examination of the patient.

This can also be reused to monitor the examinee. Let's say they answered the test and scored high, but when you interact with them, they exhibit signs of cognitive impairment and dementia. You can reissue this test at a later time to get another look at them because they might have been in a state where they were attentive during the first time.

If the examinee or their loved ones are still not convinced by their scores (let's say they passed), you can still use this to track changes in their cognitive condition over time. The same goes for tracking improvements after implementing a treatment plan.

What are the benefits of using the SLUMS Test?

It's easy and straightforward to use

Having seen what the SLUMS Test sheet looks like, you know that this assessment is easy to administer. The questions are simple enough, and the difficulty will depend on how attentive the person is and how strong their memory is.

While there are special instructions for two particular questions (the ones where you have to hand the second page to the examinee so they can draw a clock and an X inside a triangle), you don't need other specific tools to conduct this test.

It shouldn't take people more than fifteen minutes to accomplish this test.

It may help lead to early intervention

Since this is a screening tool, the SLUMS Test can lead to early intervention for those diagnosed with cognitive decline or dementia. If you can use this as soon as possible and the examinee scores low enough that they fall on the MNCD or Dementia score range, then you can have them endorsed for diagnosis and treatment as early as possible to help curb the effects.

It can track changes

This test can be used as a monitoring tool. If the patient got an official diagnosis and a treatment plan was issued for them to follow, you can use this test on the patient again to see if there are any changes in the patient, for better or worse, as they follow the treatment plan given to them.

To that, you can also determine whether the treatment plan works. If the patient is getting better, the treatment plan must be working and should be maintained. If there are no changes, or if there are but they are getting worse, then the treatment plan is not working, so part of it must be adjusted, or the whole thing must be overhauled.

Why use Carepatron for cognition-related work?

Suppose you are a healthcare professional specializing in providing care and treatment to patients suffering from cognition-related issues and disorders. In that case, you'll love what we store for you.

One of our missions is to assist healthcare professionals with their work, whether streamlining their workflows and processes or providing resources to help you cover more ground when examining your patients or clients! Carepatron is a repository of tools like worksheets and assessments. Download as much as you want for free if you believe they will help!

Carepatron also has a storage system where you can create backups of your clinical documentation in a HIPAA-compliant manner. Storing them through us will preserve your work digitally! If you scan your fully-accomplished SLUMS Tests, you can upload and secure them through us. You can set up who gets to access them as well.

Our storage also makes your files easily accessible. Let's say you are not in your hospital or clinic and doing work outside of it; you can access them on a laptop or even a smartphone, anytime, anywhere, so long as you have access to the internet.

Convenience. Accessibility. Security. You get all three with Carepatron.

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Which population can the SLUMS Test be used on?
Which population can the SLUMS Test be used on?

Commonly asked questions

Which population can the SLUMS Test be used on?

The SLUMS Test was designed to be administered to older adults who are experiencing signs of cognitive decline or dementia.

You mentioned in this guide that this test can be used to monitor patients. What if the patient’s cognitive decline or dementia is severe?

If their cognitive decline or dementia is severe, then the SLUMS Test should not be used to monitor them. Remember that this is a screening tool for early signs. You can still use this to monitor patients if their cognition hasn’t taken the turn for the worse. If you see that they are getting worse through the results, then you should use other assessments moving forward.

Can the SLUMS Test be self-administered?

No. Because if the examinee self-administers the test, they will see some of the answers on the test. It’s meant to be conducted by professionals. They will be asking you the questions out loud and you will respond. The only time an examinee will engage with this test is for the drawing parts.

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