Can early identification of Alzheimer’s disease prepare a family for a future of caregiving?

Early identification of cognitive impairment is important to healthy aging. That is why researchers from the Indiana University Center for Aging Research at the Regenstrief Institute are studying the effects of early detection of Alzheimer’s disease on older adults and their family members. The purpose of the study is to look at the benefits and harms of early identification of the disease and to better prepare family members for the future of caregiving.

The study, known as COADS (Caregiver Outcomes of Alzheimer’s Disease Screening), is open to individuals who are 65 years of age or older and have not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, along with their “study buddies”, which is usually a family member. The older adult must also be a primary care patient at IU Health or Eskenazi Health in order to take part in the project. Each pair of older adult and family member participants will be randomized into one of three groups and followed for two years over the phone or via email. As of right now, researchers are looking for 355 more pairs to participate before the study deadline of December 31st, 2020.

Nicole Fowler, PhD, is the principal investigator of the study. She says identifying impairment earlier rather than later can help families prepare for the future and potentially identify causes of impairment that can be addressed.

“The benefits and risks of early identification are unknown, but many family members of older adults with cognitive impairment state that they wish that they would have known sooner so that they could plan,” says Fowler. “Our study will be the first to measure the benefits of early detection for both older adults and their family members.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this study is able to be done over the phone or via Zoom.

To learn more about this study and how to participate, go here.