Impact and mortality of COVID-19 on people living with dementia: cross-country report
2 September 2020
A UCL-led report documents the devastating effect of Covid-19 on people with dementia across the world, revealing basic human rights of people with dementia have been compromised during the pandemic.
The ‘Impact and mortality of COVID-19 on people living with dementia: cross-country report’ is a UCL-led international report analysing the impact of Covid-19 on people with dementia in nine countries: the United Kingdom (UK), Spain, Ireland, Italy, Australia, the United States of America (USA), India, Kenya, and Brazil. This is the first report documenting the devastating effect of Covid-19 on people with dementia across the world, with mortality rates of up to 75 per cent in care homes.
The study shows that the basic human rights of people living with dementia have been compromised during the Covid-19 pandemic across the world including barriers to access to Intensive Care Units (ICUs), hospital admission, healthcare, and palliative care. It also analyses the extremely strict isolation measures imposed on this population, such as bans on care homes visits and the deleterious effect that these are having on the cognitive and mental health of people living with dementia.
The report also gives an international overview of the effects of Covid-19 on the lives of people with dementia in the community and in care homes and of the policies and practical measures implemented by different governments to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on this population.
The authors also discuss how ageism and negative attitudes towards dementia may have played a role in the discrimination experienced by this population during the pandemic, and offers short-term and long-term calls for action.
Dr Aida Suárez-González, from UCL’s Dementia Research Centre and UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, explained: “This report is very important because it shows that in many countries people with dementia account for a large proportion of Covid-19 deaths. Moreover, the most basic human rights and needs of this population are often being overlooked, for example, their right to access healthcare and their right to see their families for those living in care homes. The isolation and quarantine measures imposed in many care homes worldwide are extremely harsh and are having a devastating and damaging effect on the lives of people living with dementia.”
Professor Gill Livingston, from UCL Psychiatry, said: “People living with dementia are particularly vulnerable to the effects of illness and of social isolation. This report shows the effect of this ‘double whammy’. In some countries, people with dementia in care homes have not been able to see family and friends but have had other residents already infected with COVID-19 move in. Unfortunately, this pandemic continues, and our report makes recommendations about improving strategies for the future.”
Adelina Comas-Herrera, curator of LTCcovid and assistant professorial research fellow at the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science, added: “The devastating effect of the first waves of COVID-19 on people living with dementia worldwide are demonstrated by this report. This shows that countries need to urgently ensure that people living with dementia and other similar conditions are not systematically discriminated against in emergency situations, and that measures are put in place to monitor the impact of the pandemic on these populations.”
- Impact and mortality of COVID-19 on people living with dementia: cross-country report
- Dr Aida Suárez-González
- UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
- UCL’s Dementia Research Centre
- Professor Gill Livingston
- UCL Psychiatry