Clock Test For Measuring Dementia.

There is a fairly simple at home test that can be used to measure a loved one who is suspected of dementia. It is the Clock Test.

The basics are to ask the person to draw an analog clock with the time at 11:10, be sure that it is complete with all of the numbers. This test is extremely easy to administer at home and only requires a pencil and paper. Yet it measures a number of things. First it measures the verbal understanding.  Does the tested understand what you are asking them to do? Or do you have to further explain and may even need to show a picture or draw a clock yourself. Second it measures their short-term comprehension.  While a normal adult could draw the clock within less than a minute. A dementia sufferer may require several minutes to complete the task. Sometimes asking what are they supposed to do.  Third longer term memory, does the tested remember what a clock looks like or did it require a picture or looking at a clock?  Fourth an understanding of spatial relationship are they able to put the number in the correct location or are they skewed all on one side, not evenly spaced or perhaps not in the correct order.  Can they draw a good circle, is the circle closed. Did it start and end at the same place. It could be open or over lapping.  Perhaps the circle does not meet or finishes above or below the starting location. Did they put the hand on the clock? Do they both start in the center? Are they pointing to the correct time or did it require a reminder. Since the hands are often the last thing to be drawn is not uncommon for them to forget what time they were asked to draw on the clock. Fifth critical thinking, planning and thinking ahead how did the tested set about to draw the clock? A rational thinker will first draw a circle then put 12 at the top then 6 at the bottom the three in the right quadrant and the 9 in the left. After that they will fill in the rest of the numbers. And the hands last the hands may be simple lines or elaborate ornate hands.

I am not going to get into testing on this post. This is just a preliminary guide to help the layperson identify a possible dementia sufferer.

The instructions should be “I would like you to draw a clock, put in all the numbers, and set the hands for 10 after 11.”

If you administer this test I would love to hear from you. I would also like to share a photo the clock drawing.



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