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.


Commonly Used Terms for Dementia

Commonly Used Terms
Agnosia Loss of the ability to recognize familiar people or objects
A form of a gene. Each person receives two alleles of a gene, one from each biological parent. This combination is one factor among many that influence a variety of processes in the body. On chromosome 19, the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene has three common alleles: ε2, ε3, and ε4.
Alz Abbreviation for Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s A common form of dementia, believed to be caused by changes in the brain, usually beginning in late middle age, characterized by memory lapses, confusion, emotional instability, and progressive loss of mental ability.
Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene A gene on chromosome 19 involved in making a protein that helps carry cholesterol and other types of fat in the bloodstream. The APOE ε4 allele is the major known risk-factor gene for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Atrophy To waste away, with dementia it is the slow dying process of the brain
A compact structure containing DNA and proteins present in nearly all cells of the body. Chromosomes carry genes, which direct the cell to make proteins and direct a cell’s construction, operation, and repair. Normally, each cell has 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs. Each biological parent contributes one of each pair of chromosomes.
Dementia An umbrella term for a range of symptoms which manifest a decline in intellectual functioning caused by a disease or other injury to the brain. severe impairment or loss of intellectual capacity and personality integration, due to the loss of or damage to neurons in the brain.
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)—The hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms. Almost all cells in a person’s body have the same DNA. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus.
Early Onset Dementia developed before the age of 65
FAST scale A functional scale designed to evaluate patients at the more moderate-severe stages of dementia
Gene A basic unit of heredity. Genes direct a cell to make proteins and guide almost every aspect of a cell’s construction, operation, and repair.
Genetic mutation A permanent change in a gene that can be passed on to children. The rare, early-onset familial form of Alzheimer’s disease is associated with mutations in genes on chromosomes 21, 14, and 1.
Genetic risk factor A change in a gene that increases a person’s risk of developing a disease.
Genetic variant A change in a gene that may increase or decrease a person’s risk of developing a disease or condition.
Genome An organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism.
Genome-wide association study (GWAS) A studied approach that involves rapidly scanning the genomes of many individuals to find genetic variations associated with a particular disease.
Geri chair A recliner designed to allow someone to get out of the confines of their bed and be able to sit comfortably in a variety of positions while being fully supported.
Hippocampus This is the region of the brain responsible for emotion and short-term memory.
Incontinence Loss of bowel (fecal) and/or bladder (urinary) control due
PLWA Person Living With Alzheimer’s
PLWD Person Living With Dementia
POA Power of Attorney
Power of Attorney Gives broad powers to a person or organization to act on your behalf.
Protein A substance that determines the physical and chemical characteristics of a cell and therefore of an organism. Proteins are essential to all cell functions and are created using genetic information.
Respite care Respite care provides short-term relief for primary caregivers. It can be arranged for just an afternoon or for several days or weeks. Care can be provided at home, in a healthcare facility, or at an adult day center.
Sepsis Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger inflammation throughout the body. This can cause a cascade of changes that damage multiple organ systems, leading them to fail, sometimes even resulting in death.
Septic shock A serious medical condition that occurs when sepsis, which is organ injury or damage in response to infection, leads to dangerously low blood pressure and abnormalities in cellular metabolism
Stages The progression of dementia as outlined on the FAST scale.
Sundowning A symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It’s also known as “late-day confusion.” If someone you care for has dementia, their confusion and agitation may get worse in the late afternoon and evening.
urinary tract infection An infection of the kidney, ureter, bladder, or urethra
UTI Urinary tract infection
Wandering Anyone who has memory problems and is able to walk is at risk for wandering. A person with Alzheimer’s or dementia may not remember his or her name or address, and can become disoriented and lost, even in familiar places.
Younger Onset Dementia developed before the age of 65
Shadowing To follow close behind someone.