Dementia Patients at Higher Risk for COVID-19

Although many vulnerable populations have been able to secure appointments for COVID-19 vaccines, some elderly adults and especially those with cognitive impairment face difficulties navigating an often complex system to register for their shots.  According to a recent study, people with dementia have twice the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. African American dementia patients were found to be nearly three times as likely to be infected as white patients. 

People living with dementia are at increased risk for COVID and if infected are more likely to become seriously ill or die as a result of the virus.  Caregivers and doctors can help people in high-risk populations by taking added measures to protect patients from infection with access to vaccines, proper masking, and careful attention to hygiene and social distancing reports MedPage Today.  

Older adults living with dementia who may also have comorbidities including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and hypertension are more vulnerable to severe COVID cases.  People with dementia may also forget to take proper steps such as wearing a face mask and washing hands frequently in order to protect themselves from infection.  

It is estimated that 5.8 million Americans over the age of 65 and 50 million people globally are living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.  In patients with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s, the blood-brain barrier is damaged, allowed viruses and bacteria easier access to the brain.  These factors, among others, contribute to a significantly greater risk for COVID-19 infection among seniors with dementia. 

As communities work to roll out the vaccine and curb the spread of the COVID, and its variants, everyone can do their part by continuing to properly wear a snugly-fitted face mask, keeping hands washed often and practicing social distancing.  The most vulnerable people in our communities need our vigilance.