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Press Release - 12 May 2006

New tool gives better insight into effects of dementia

Medical professionals will now be able to detect subtle changes in the quality of life of people with mild dementia, thanks to a new self-assessment technique that will help improve the timing of additional help and support.

One of the major problems with dementia is that it is difficult to assess the true impact on the person with the condition, particularly because worsening health does not inevitably lead to a reduction in quality of life.

However those whose quality of life is affected should soon be identified more easily, thanks to new research.

The new technique, developed by researchers from the Research Institute for the Care of the Elderly (RICE) and the University of Bath, will allow patients to self-report their quality of life, providing valuable information about the experience of dementia from the perspective of the person with the condition.

This will enable medical professionals to help patients manage their condition more effectively, offering advice regarding additional support or care, so that any intervention more closely reflects the true needs of the patient.

The assessment, which has been developed with funding from the Alzheimer’s Society, is carried out as an interview with the patient, in which they answer a series of questions about different aspects of their life, using a simple response scale.

“For medical professionals and family members it can be very difficult trying to understand how a condition like dementia is affecting the quality of life of a person,” said Dr Richard Trigg from the University of Bath who developed the assessment.

“Dementia can affect different people in many different ways and we cannot assume that all people with dementia will have a negative quality of life.

“It is therefore essential that we find ways to assess quality of life, using information obtained directly from the person with dementia, if we are to properly understand the impact of the condition.

“By monitoring quality of life changes, medical professionals can chart the effectiveness of different treatments and therapies and more accurately determine when those interventions should be delivered.

“This is crucial to enabling the effective management of this cruel disease.”

Information about the Bath Assessment of Subjective Quality of Life in Dementia (BASQID), is available to download from the RICE webite (see related links section).

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