Covid-19 deaths disproportionately affecting people with dementia, targeted response urgently needed

1 September 2020 – The Covid-19 pandemic is leading to extremely high death rates amongst people with dementia globally. At the beginning of World Alzheimer’s Month, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) highlights emerging data revealing that in Canada 85 percent of all Covid-19 deaths are in long term care, where two thirds of people have dementia. In the UK 26 percent of Covid-19 deaths are people living with dementia, and in regions of Italy 20 percent. 

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, the global campaign to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia everywhere. The theme of this year’s campaign - ‘Let’s talk about dementia’ - has been given added relevancy by the global pandemic.

As ADI’s Chief Executive Paola Barbarino explains: “People with dementia are being disproportionately impacted by this pandemic and are in danger of being forgotten. Now more than ever we need to talk about dementia. At the start of World Alzheimer’s Month, we are calling on governments to capture and publish transparent data and to increase support to protect vulnerable people with dementia.”

Emerging data, including findings from a report by report, are extremely worrying and is calling on governments to act immediately, saying we must not just accept that Covid-19 causes high rates of mortality amongst people with dementia.

Additionally, cognitive impairments associated with dementia exacerbate many of the challenges associated with Covid-19 and the resultant social distancing and lockdown measures being put in place to manage the pandemic. This includes heightened complications around being denied access to carers and to family, increased anxiety caused by isolation, and in care and hospital settings, recognition issues around the wearing of PPE.