Validation of Cognitive Assessments using Telecommunication (2007–2009)
This project will assess the use of video conferencing to enable geriatricians to assess and diagnose memory problems including dementia. Establishing the reliability of diagnosis and other related assessments, and identifying which functions can confidently be carried out via video conferencing, is one step towards extending the availability of this service to rural and remote communities.
Access to accurate diagnosis and assessment of cognitive impairment is an important step in the management of dementia, Alzheimer's disease and other associated disorders. High level expertise, such as that offered by a specialist Memory Disorder Clinic, is particularly important if there is uncertainty about the diagnosis, or if the prescription of cholinesterase inhibitors and associated medications are being considered.
It was estimated that in 2005 there were 52,000 people diagnosed with dementia in Australia and by 2050 there will be an additional 175,000 cases each year. For the vast number of people who will be affected by dementia, early detection and intervention will play an important role in their healthy ageing experience. Access to accurate diagnosis and advice as a function of detection and intervention is often not as freely available to people in rural areas. The experience of travelling long distances for assessment can be detrimental to the emotional well being of people who may have dementia. Access to geriatrician services in a local rural area is an important element to maintaining their sense of well being. Geriatricians are not commonly available in rural areas which means current access to specialist diagnosis and assessment is either a missed opportunity or involves extensive travel. Internationally, there are many individuals living in remote regions with no access to geriatrician services, or reliable cognitive assessment. This study will inform similar experiments in other cultural settings.