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You can do IT in laterlife 


You can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.  

Jackie has also written several books - you can find more details about these by clicking here. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s.

Via Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, why not email her 

Or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too..

View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers





April 2012


Alzheimer's test - picture courtesy of the BBCDementia is the term given to a collection of symptoms that result from some form of brain damage. They include loss of memory, mood or personality changes, confusion and disorientation, the decline of reasoning powers and communication problems. These difficulties are usually progressive and are caused by a number of different factors. They include diseases such as Alzheimer's, which is the most common cause for people over 65, but also overuse of drugs or alcohol or one or more strokes that deprive the brain cells of oxygen.

With a condition like dementia, it is very hard to know if a friend, relative or someone you care for is showing real signs of a possible medical condition or they just happen to be increasingly forgetful due to normal ageing. But being told to go and see the doctor, if for example they are at all worried that they are becoming mentally confused or suffering from serious memory loss or other cognitive impairment, isn't straightforward.

Visiting the doctor for the elderly can be a big step to take and may not be easy, not least because they often hate "bothering" the doctor or it might involve having to arrange and pay for special transport or asking a relative or carer to go with them. So it is not something that many elderly people take lightly.

Instead, the answer may be for you to help them take a test in their own home first that will confirm whether or not there is anything to worry about, or worth worrying a doctor about. If they get a low score, they can have confidence that it is indeed sensible to book an appointment soon.

There are several tests now available to check for dementia. Some involve face-to-face assessment and others can be self-administered (but will require another person to interpret the results). These usually take the form of a questionnaire or pen and paper tasks of some sort. Up until now, examples have only been provided on the Web and so have only been accessible to people with computers.

The most common tests include:

MMSE (Mini Mental State Examination)
which involves being asked a series of questions to test memory and mental agility. These might include:

  • knowing the correct day, month and year
  • counting or spelling backwards
  • remembering and later recalling facts they are given
  • being able to name common items in the room or in a picture
  • following simple instructions to complete a task
  • copying a drawing

Although the entire test is not available free, a few example questions can be found at

TYM (Test Your Memory) – a self-administered questionnaire developed by researchers at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. According to the BMJ: "The TYM is a series of 10 tasks including: ability to copy a sentence, semantic knowledge, calculation, verbal fluency and recall ability. The ability to do the test is also scored. Each task carries a score with a maximum score of 50 points available. The test is designed to use minimal operator time and to be suitable for non-specialist use."

You can read about it on the BBC website at where they have some sample questions:

  • Why is a carrot like a potato?
  • Remember this phrase: Good citizens always wear stout shoes
  • Draw the hands so the time reads 9:20 on this clock
  • In what year did the First World War start?
  • List four creatures beginning with the letter S
  • Sums: 20-4=,16+17=, 8x6=, 4+15-17=

If you are a health professional you can download the test at but I have not been able to find an example for members of the public to use.

Mini-cog is a simplified test that appears to be just as effective. It asks people to remember a few words and draw a clock and then a specific time on the clock.

Below is an example of a Mini-cog-type test. You will need to help your friend or relative by asking the questions and scoring the results. If they get a low score or cannot complete the drawing task correctly, it is suggested that they make an appointment and discuss their worries with their GP.



1. Ask the person being tested to listen carefully and repeat out loud three separate words. Choose any common objects such as


2. Draw a large circle on a piece of paper and then ask them to draw all 12 numbers of a clock face in the correct positions inside the circle.

3. Ask them to draw the hands of the clock to show a specific time e.g. a quarter to four or twenty past two.

4. Ask them to recall the three words they said out loud in Step 1.


1 point for each correct word remembered
A recognisable clock face and accurate time shown (there is no need to distinguish between the hands)


Normal – score of 3
Normal – the correct time on an accurate clock face

Abnormal – score of 0
Abnormal – score of 1 or 2 AND an inaccurate time/clock drawing


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The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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