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Study To Analyze Benefit Of App Designed To Help Avoid Dementia-Causing Drugs


A team of Indiana researchers received a national grant to study the use of an app aimed at older patients. The tool is designed to help patients avoid drugs linked to dementia.

The class of drugs called anticholinergics are used to treat conditions ranging from depression to allergies. But they have been linked to an increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Regenstrief Institute research scientist Richard Holden developed an app called Brain Safe. It aims to increase education and communication with providers among older patients taking these drugs.

"We have an equation that shows when you combine multiple medications, when you look at someone’s age, their gender, their medical history, you can calculate a personal risk score," says Holden. 

Holden and his team have received a $3.5 million grant from the National Institute on Aging to study the app’s effectiveness. 

Holden says he developed the app to address what is often a one-sided conversation.

"The physician says ‘take this’ the patient says ‘OK’," says Holden. "In this case we’re asking the patient to come to the physician and say ‘hey can we talk about what you are asking me to take?’"

The study will measure the use of medications and cognitive function outcomes. 

The five year study will recruit 700 participants from Indiana.