Study Shows Only Half of Seniors Get Cognitive Assessments

WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – A recent study from the Alzheimer’s Association found that only half of seniors are getting cognitive assessments despite a strong belief that they are important.

“A lot of physicians wait for the patient to [ask],” said Sharon Rotenberry, the executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association W.Va. chapter. “Physicians wait to do the test many times and a lot of times the patients don’t understand they should ask for that test.”

Seniors may also decide against cognitive testing because they don’t want to know the results. Terri Tilley from the Raleigh County Commission on Aging said those patients may want to reconsider.

“[If they do have it,] it gives them time to plan,” said Tilley “[It gives them time] to think about what kind of care they want and where they want to be. They also have a chance to discuss things with their families, so being diagnosed early having testing done is really important.”

During the test, a physician may ask the patient questions such as’ who was the president when you were in high school?’ Then, the questions are repeated at the next appointment and the physician compares the answers. In some cases, the tests are more formal and regulated.

“One [test] is asking people to draw a picture of the face of a clock,” said Rotenberry. “As their memory declines, you notice that maybe the numbers aren’t in order or they’re not going around the face of the clock.”

The Commission on Aging has a variety of resources for community members. The commission offers an adult day program and support groups for patients and their families.

If you’re interested in talking about what you need from the Alzheimer’s Association, a community forum is happening in May at the Raleigh County Commission on Aging.

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Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at