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SLU Mental Status Exam

The Saint Louis University Mental Status exam is an assessment tool for mild cognitive impairment and dementia and was developed in partnership with the Geriatrics Research, Education and Clinical Center at the St. Louis Veterans Administration Medical Center.

Before administering the SLUMS the training video should be viewed and then annually reviewed.

Training Video

Download the SLUMS

SLU Mental Status Examination Tool

What does the SLU Mental Status Exam Test Do?

  • Q1-Q3: Attention, immediate recall, and orientation
  • Q4 and Q7: Delayed recall with interference
  • Q5: Numeric calculation and registration
  • Q6: Memory: immediate recall with interference (time constraint)
  • Q8: Registration and digit span
  • Q9: Visual spatial
  • Q10: Visual spatial and executive function
  • Q11: Executive function plus extrapolation

SLUMS Form Details

Who Can Use this Form

Social services, reflections/passages program coordinators, licensed nurses, physicians, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, physical therapists, residence supervisors and other qualified health care professionals who have been trained (and retrained annually) by viewing VA-produced video available online.

Purpose of the Form

To screen individuals to look for the presence of cognitive deficits, and to identify changes in cognition over time.

Instructions for Use
  1. Complete resident demographics at the top of the page. We recommend that you put the date and the name of the evaluator on the bottom of the page as well (see step 19).
  2. Administration should be conducted privately and in the examinee’s primary language. Be prepared with the items you need to complete the exam. You will need a watch with a second hand on it.
  3. Record the number of years the patient attended school. If the patient obtained an associates, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree, note the degree achieved instead of actual years of school attended.
  4. Determine if the patient is alert. Do not answer “yes” or “no,” but indicate level of alertness. Alert indicates that the individual is fully awake and able to focus. Other descriptors include drowsy, confused, distractable, inattentive and preoccupied.
  5. Begin by asking the patient the following: “Do you have any trouble with your memory?”, “May I ask you some questions about your memory?” or “I’d like to see how good your memory is by asking you some questions.” You may need to reassure patients by telling them that this is not a test that they can fail but merely a tool much like a thermometer that takes temperature. What this tool does is check the amount of memory they have. Then proceed with the exam questions.
  6. Read the questions aloud clearly and slowly to the examinee. It is not usually necessary to speak loudly but it is necessary to speak slowly.
  7. Score the questions as indicated on the examination.
    1. On question No. 4, read the statement as listed on the exam. Ask the patient to repeat each of the five objects (apple, pen, tie, house, car) that you recite to make sure that the patient heard and understood what you said. Repeat them as many times as it takes for the patient to repeat them back to you correctly.
    2. On question No. 5, make sure the patient is focused on you prior to reciting the information. Obtain an answer for the first part of the question (“How much did you spend”) before moving on to part two (“How much do you have left?”). Do not prompt or give hints, but do give ample time to the patient to answer the questions. If the patient asks you to repeat the question you may do so once.
    3. Redirect the patient’s attention if necessary back to you to answer question No. 6. Give them one minute to complete the question. Be sure to time them.
    4. On question No. 8, state each number by its individual name. 87 is pronounced eight, seven; 648 is pronounced six, four, eight; 8537 is pronounced eight, five, three, seven.
    5. On question No. 9, either draw a large circle on the back of the examination form or provide the patient with a separate piece of paper with a larger circle printed on it and attach it to the original examination form. When scoring, give full credit for either all 12 numbers or all 12 ticks. If the patient puts only four ticks on the circle, prompt them once to put numbers next to those ticks (12, 3, 6 and 9) for full credit. When scoring the correct time, make sure the hour hand is shorter than the minute hand and that the minute hand points at the 10 and the hour hand points at the 11.
    6. You may also provide a separate sheet with larger examples of the forms listed on question No. 10 for those with vision impairment. This sheet should be created by enlarging the figures on the examination form and can also be attached to the original form.
    7. Read question No. 11 as written, and provide ample time to answer each question. Do not repeat the story but do make sure they are paying attention the first time you read it to them. Do not prompt or give hints. The answer of Chicago as the state she lives in gets no credit but you may prompt them once by repeating the question. 
  8. Score the examination as listed at the bottom of the page, circling the level based on the score.
  9. Upon completion of the form, record the score in the patient’s record and comment on any indicated changes. Depending upon office protocols, either put the sheet in the patient’s record, place it in a separate identified location or destroy the worksheet once the score is recorded in the patient record (specify based on Office Center policy).
  10. Form status: (varies by office): Mandatory for (e.g., patients with diagnoses or indicators of cognitive loss)

Video Library

Multi-Language Mental Status Exam