A new study shows that a practical clinical tool developed by researchers from the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University School of Medicine to measure severity of dementia symptoms is reliable and valid. The Healthy Aging Brain Care Monitor is simple, user-friendly and sensitive to change in symptoms.
"The HABC Monitor is a 'blood pressure cuff' for dementia," said Regenstrief Institute investigator Malaz Boustani, M.D., MPH, associate professor of medicine and associate director of the IU Center for Aging Research. A geriatrician, Dr. Boustani is the study's corresponding author and principal investigator. He is also medical director of the Healthy Aging Brain Center at Wishard Health Services, the public hospital where the study was conducted. "Much as doctors and nurses use a sphygmomanometer -- a blood pressure cuff -- to quickly and repeatedly determine changes in blood pressure, we have developed a 31-item questionnaire to easily measure and track dementia symptoms. The results provide information critical to the clinician's care of older adults as well as to caregiver's well-being."
Divided into clinically relevant domains -- cognitive, functional, and behavioral and psychological symptoms of the patient; and caregiver quality of life -- all questions on the HABC Monitor have the same response options, ranging from never to almost all days. It takes about six minutes for caregiver response.
In the study, 171 caregivers -- three-quarters of whom were female -- completed the HABC Monitor. Fifty-two percent of the caregivers were the children of the patients, 34 percent were spouses, 6 percent were siblings, and 4 percent were grandchildren. Caregivers had a mean age of 58 years. Ninety percent indicated that they knew the patient very well, while 10 percent indicated they knew the patient well.