Assessing affect in cognitively impaired elders is difficult. A number of instruments have been developed to measure single emotions or more broad aspects of well-being. The Apparent Emotion Rating (AER) scale is an observational instrument that measures the presence or absence of three positive (pleasure, interest, and tranquility) and three negative emotions (anger, anxiety, and sadness). Interrater percentage of agreement ranged from 82% for anxiety to 100% for interest. A weak, but statistically significant correlation (r = .303, p = .000) was found with the Philadelphia Geriatric Morale Scale (Lawton, 1975). Elders with greater cognitive impairment had lower AER scores than did persons with higher scores. The AER is a promising tool for providing reliable and valid observational data about mood state, particularly in persons unable to respond to a self-report measure.
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