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The Aging Brain Center

The Aging Brain Center is dedicated to advancing medical knowledge about delirium and the interface between delirium and dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Each year, more than 12 million older Americans develop delirium, an acute medical condition that presents as an abrupt confusion or a sudden change in cognitive abilities.  Long-term consequences of delirium include increased risks of death, dementia, and prolonged disability.  Delirium is especially common in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and prevention of delirium in this group of patients is of critical importance.

Our vision is to reduce delirium and its complications for patients worldwide. This mission is realized through rigorous research studies and is supported by a dedicated staff along with interdisciplinary collaborators and trainees in a supportive environment utilizing high-quality, innovative methods and technology.

Our research and clinical activities include investigation of risk factors, pathophysiology, intervention strategies, and clinical trials and focus on:

  • Cognitive aging and optimizing cognitive health
  • Delirium and prevention of reversible causes of cognitive decline and dementia
  • Models of care to prevent delirium and cognitive decline

The Center’s work also examines broader societal implications of delirium and cognitive decline, including costs, policy, and caregiver issues for conditions associated with cognitive impairment in older adults.

The Aging Brain Center is distinguished by our faculty’s commitment to mentor the next generation of researchers in the field, and disseminate our findings to clinicians, policy makers, and the community.

Significant impacts and research focus areas include:

  • Delirium Diagnosis.  The Confusion Assessment Method (CAM), developed by IFAR Aging Brain Center Director Dr. Sharon Inouye, is the world’s most widely used method for detecting delirium.
  • Delirium Prevention.  The Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP), a model of hospital care that has been shown to reduce the incidence of delirium by up to 40 percent, is used in more than 200 hospitals worldwide.
  • Long-term Outcomes Following Delirium.  Our studies on the impact of delirium on older adults has led to greater understanding of the risks, causes, and outcomes associated with this condition, and may ultimately change the way patients with delirium are cared for in the future.
  • Interface of Delirium and Dementia.  We are interested in understanding how delirium and dementia, two of the most common causes of cognitive impairment in older populations, impact and influence each other.