More than 90 percent of patients with Alzheimer disease will experience behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia at some point during the course of the illness. Leaving these symptoms of dementia untreated has been associated with nursing home placement, poor management of other health problems, high health-care costs and caregiver burn out. For these reasons, the team approach to care emphasized management of these important symptoms.
"We wanted to build a treatment infrastructure within primary care, where most people with Alzheimer disease get their health care. We asked, what would happen if we put together an interdisciplinary team led by a primary care physician and an advanced practice nurse who served as the care manager working with the patient and the caregiver giving them access to resources, providing education, and helping them navigate the health-care system," said Christopher Callahan, M.D., the study's principal investigator. Dr. Callahan is director if the IU Center for Aging, a Regenstrief research scientist and Cornelius and Yvonne Pettinga Professor in Aging Research at the IU School of Medicine.
The 153 older adults with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers were divided into two groups and followed for 18 months. One group of patients and their caregivers received the collaborative care spearheaded by the advanced practice nurse. The control group of Alzheimer disease patients and caregivers were not exposed to
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