Living Reference Work Entry

Mental Health and Illness of the Elderly

Part of the series Mental Health and Illness Worldwide pp 1-26

Date: Latest Version

Cognitive and Neuropsychiatric Screening Tests in Older Adults

  • Zahinoor IsmailAffiliated withDepartments of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education, Ron and Rene Ward Centre for Healthy Brain Aging Research, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary Email author 
  • , Moyra E. MortbyAffiliated withThe Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing, The Australian National University; NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research


A number of instruments are available to clinicians to assess cognitive and neuropsychiatric features of neurocognitive disorders in older adults, from preclinical and prodromal stages through to more severe stages of dementia. This chapter provides a comprehensive overview and discussion of the key characteristics to consider when selecting a screening instrument to support accurate and timely assessment of cognitive changes and neuropsychiatric symptoms, both of which are core features of neurocognitive disorders. Particular consideration must be given to factors such as the assessment setting (e.g., acute care versus residential care environment), the population for which a measure was developed, and the context in which the instrument was validated. When selecting an instrument, clinicians must also consider possible population-based bias effects as a result of use in culturally and linguistically diverse populations or due to differences in educational attainment. Improving understanding of the diversity in measures available to assist clinicians in differing care contexts is fundamental so that the best possible care and treatment plans can be implemented, and better support provided to next of kin and caregivers (both formal and informal caregivers).


Cognitive screening instruments Dementia Mild cognitive impairment Cognitive impairment Neuropsychiatric symptoms Mild behavioral impairment Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia Neurocognitive disorders