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New Program Could Improve Dementia Care

A new model of coordinated brain care improves treatment and outcomes for patients with cognitive impairment.

Researchers from the Regenstrief Institute, Eskenazi Health and Indiana University Center for Aging Research, who developed the Healthy Aging Brain Center care model, said the new program also produces substantial cost savings.

In the program, patients have an initial cognitive assessment, including neuropsychological testing, brain imaging, a medication review and structured neurological and physical evaluations.

Based on the results of the evaluation, practitioners then help the patient and family caregivers develop a personal treatment plan that typically includes recognizing potentially harmful medications, prescribing new medications, mental and physical exercise regimens, training in problem solving, and working on reducing stress to improve quality of life.

A health care team, including physicians, nurses and social workers, communicate with the family both in person and via email. The result, the researchers said, reduces symptoms, lessens caregivers’ burden and improves quality of care.

The researchers said that the model resulted in an annual net savings of up to $2,856 per patient. With an estimated 4.7 million Medicare recipients who have Alzheimer’s, the savings could total billions of dollars.

The researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Health Affairs, said they envision a program that can train practitioners in the model.

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