Remote cognitive and behavioral assessment: Report of the Alzheimer Society of Canada Task Force on dementia care best practices for COVID-19

Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2020 Sep 22;12(1):e12111. doi: 10.1002/dad2.12111. eCollection 2020.


Introduction: Despite the urgent need for remote neurobehavioral assessment of individuals with cognitive impairment, guidance is lacking. Our goal is to provide a multi-dimensional framework for remotely assessing cognitive, functional, behavioral, and physical aspects of people with cognitive impairment, along with ethical and technical considerations.

Methods: Literature review on remote cognitive assessment and multidisciplinary expert opinion from behavioral neurologists, neuropsychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and geriatricians was integrated under the auspices of the Alzheimer Society of Canada Task Force on Dementia Care Best Practices for COVID-19. Telephone and video approaches to assessments were considered.

Results: Remote assessment is shown to be acceptable to patients and caregivers. Informed consent, informant history, and attention to privacy and autonomy are paramount. A range of screening and domain-specific instruments are available for telephone or video assessment of cognition, function, and behavior. Some neuropsychological tests administered by videoconferencing show good agreement with in-person assessment but still lack validation and norms. Aspects of the remote dementia-focused neurological examination can be performed reliably.

Discussion: Despite challenges, current literature and practice support implementation of telemedicine assessments for patients with cognitive impairment. Convergence of data across the clinical interview, reliable and brief remote cognitive tests, and remote neurological exam increase confidence in clinical interpretation and diagnosis.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; assessment; cognitive impairment; dementia; telehealth; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Review