Dementia Patients Have a Greater Risk of Contracting COVID-19
We’re continually faced with news about COVID-19. It’s impossible to open a newspaper, read a magazine, or watch television without being bombarded with news and pertinent information about the virus and how it will affect the public.
I apologize in advance for throwing more virus information at you, but a recent large retrospective study indicates that adults with dementia are two times more likely to contract COVID-19 than adults who don’t have the cognitive disorder.
The fact that adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are twice as likely to contract COVID-19 is shocking, but likely accurate. The study took into account more than 60 million medical records across the U.S. Medical data from 317,000 providers and 360 hospitals in all 50 states were used in the study, which represents about 20% of the country’s population.
The number of patients the study took into account is staggering. More than 1 million of the senior patients out of 61,916,260 people had dementia. Of that number, 810 had both dementia and COVID-19. The study was definite in its findings, and specific. People with vascular dementia have the greatest risk, according to the research, followed by presenile dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, senile dementia, and post-traumatic dementia.
Could commonalities skew the outcome?
One might argue that the study’s findings could be skewed because of the natural commonalities between dementia and COVID-19. However, the study accounted for these factors, including advanced years and living in a nursing home.
Following adjustments for age, sex, and risk factors commonly associated with COVID-19, African Americans with dementia emerged as the demographic that is most likely to contract the virus when compared with white patients with dementia. Similar findings also accompanied Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
The study notes that “preexisting dementia, especially with involvement of blood vessels in the brain (vascular dementia), predisposes patients to greater risk of morbidity and mortality from COVID‐19.”
What’s the takeaway?
Family caregivers should be vaccinated to help protect their loved ones. However, many caregivers don’t fall within the age bracket yet to receive COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccines are still scarce, and choices must be made. Unfortunately, caregivers don’t always fall within those boundaries, leaving seniors, whose risk is already elevated because of dementia, at an even greater risk, as family members who can’t get the vaccine provide their care.
Some states are looking into the problem and extending vaccinations to familial caregivers. Check with your local health department to find out if they’re available in your area. In the meantime, the best you can do is to make an appointment for a frail senior who is at risk. A vaccination will help protect them in the event that you become ill with COVID-19.
Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.