Before anyone begins the Ashby Memory Method, a test is administered. This test gives us a memory score rating so that we have a baseline against which we can measure progress. Memory testing is done on a scale of 0 to 30, where the higher score reflects stronger cognitive functioning. A score of 27+ is considered to be “normal”; a score of 26 or less indicates that someone’s cognition has declined. It is not a reflection of someone’s intelligence, but rather of their functional cognition. The test reflects more than just memory. It includes elements of problem solving, computation, trail marking, abstraction, language, and other areas as well.
The various elements of cognition that are reflected on the test are necessary for daily living. A decline in someone’s memory score on the test is a direct reflection of a reduction in their ability to function independently. Thus, maintaining a high score is not an issue of pride or interest in high marks; instead, it is critical to retain a high score as an indication of ability to continue functioning independently. The loss of such function increases the likelihood of nursing home placement.
The chart to the right outlines some of the specific activities of daily living that are affected by memory loss at each score on the memory test. As you can see on the chart, none of the activities of daily living are affected when a score is 25—30. However, once the score drops below 25, increasing activities of daily living are affected. Activities that are more abstract and organizational are affected initially; as cognition declines, so does one’s ability to perform tasks until even the most basic and essential tasks can no longer be performed. This chart illustrates how crucial it is to maintain a high score as a drop of even a few points on the memory test translates to a significant loss of independence.
Knowing that a decline of even a few points equates to such a difference in daily life can be quite concerning. No one wants to experience decline. The good news is that the Ashby Memory Method directly improves cognition, and changes are seen in day-to-day functioning. These improvements are also reflected on the memory testing.
Below is a chart outlining the average improvements experienced from various treatment options. The patient begins with a memory score of 20. The green line shows the general progression for a patient who does not participate in any treatment at all. Over the course of the year, this patient will generally decline by 3.3 points. Referencing the above chart of activities of daily living, you can see that this patient will have a drastically reduced quality of life within only a few years.
The tan-coloured line shows the average progression for a patient who uses medication to delay symptom progression. There are several medications available for patients with dementia; these medications are generally most effective early in the disease progression, so it is important to seek early diagnosis to be eligible for such medications. Unfortunately, the medications are only effective and suitable for about 40% of the population; the side-effects and the narrow the range of eligibility eliminate others from taking these medications. The tan line shows the progression for someone who is able to take medications and finds relief from dementia medication. Their symptoms stabilize, but the effects are temporary. Once the medication loses effectiveness, the rate of decline is equivalent to someone who is not taking medication; that decline is simply delayed by a few months.
The blue line shows the improvement that is experienced by a patient who utilizes the Ashby Memory Method. The breakthrough moments tend to occur between the three and six-month mark. There may be mild improvements within the first few months, but the true breakthroughs generally show between three and six months. At this point, the patient’s score has increased by over 2 points, so the improvements can begin to be noticed in daily life. The breakthrough improvements that are gained at the three to six month mark can then be maintained over the rest of the year.
Improvements continue to be made as long as someone remains on the program. At the end of the one year mark, the difference in memory scoring between someone who has no intervention, and someone who uses the AMM program would be 5.5 points. A difference in 5.5 points in one year is substantial! As you can see from the above graph with the activities of daily living, the difference between a score of 22.5 and a score of 17 can mean quite a difference in abilities and independence.
You can see why it is important for patients to begin the Ashby Memory Method earlier rather than later—the earlier someone begins the program, the higher we can push their score. Helping people to remain at a higher functioning level is our goal, so starting the program at an earlier stage allows us to help people remain independent even longer.
For more information about the science and reserach behind AMM, you may browse the national AMM website: On their website, you will find links to scientific articles about neuroplasticity and other reserach on the brain.
The Ashby Memory Method is exciting because it is a proactive option for people with memory loss. It is positive and creates gains at a time in life when people feel many losses. It fosters abilities and hope among both the participant and their family members. For some examples of how AMM has impacted daily life for participants, click this button:
For examples of how AMM has impacted the family members of participants, click this button: