Trump got a perfect score on a screening test for dementia and Alzheimer’s — here’s what that means

President Donald Trump.

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President Donald Trump.
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Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

  • President Donald Trump’s doctor Ronny Jackson said on Tuesday that the commander in chief was “fit for duty.”
  • Jackson said Trump scored 100% on a 10-minute dementia test.
  • The Montreal Cognitive Assessment is a 30-point exam meant to screen for Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairment in older adults. Experts say it’s a good test for dementia.

On Tuesday afternoon, the presidential physician Ronny Jackson told reporters at the White House that President Donald Trump should probably lose a few pounds and could benefit from cutting some calories from his diet.

But Jackson said he spotted “no issues whatsoever” with Trump’s mental ability during his first medical exam as a sitting president. Jackson said that Trump was “very sharp” and “articulate” and that he got a perfect score on a gold-standard dementia test.

In fact, Jackson said he had no concerns about Trump’s neurological functioning or cognitive decline and wasn’t planning on administering any sort of mental test. The dementia test was all Trump’s idea, he said.

Months of questions about Trump’s mental abilities reached a fever pitch in Washington last week, with the president tweeting that he is a “stable genius” and that “throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.”

The test Jackson used during his exam on Friday is called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. Though you can view it online here, the website was down on Tuesday afternoon shortly after Jackson’s announcement.

The 30-point cognitive exam – which screens for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other cognitive diseases in older adults – takes about 10 minutes for a doctor to administer, is widely regarded as an early and easy way to determine whether someone is showing signs of dementia, and has been translated into dozens of languages.

On Tuesday, Jackson said that if Trump “had some type of mental cognitive issue, this test is sensitive enough that it would pick up on it.” A 2005 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society backs up that assertion.

For anyone without age-related cognitive declines, it’s a pretty easy exam. Patients have to name some animals, repeat some phrases, draw a specific time on a clock, and copy a drawing of a cube. Then they’re graded on things like short-term memory, visuospatial abilities, executive functioning, attention, concentration, conceptual thinking, and working memory.

The test, meant to indicate whether an older person’s cognitive abilities are declining, doesn’t screen for any non-age-related cognitive or mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or psychosis.

Here’s a sample of what the test from 2009 looks like:

moca montreal cognitive assessment 2009

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Dementia Services and Information Development Centre