Take note, caregivers: stay vigilant.
The Alzheimer's Association has revealed some startling news: the number of people with Alzheimer's and dementia who have died during the pandemic is steadily rising. The Association's director of state affairs, Carter Harrison, said, "We have noticed a significant increase."
Harrison commented further: "These are not just deaths that occurred because of COVID-19; we don’t have the data to support that completely ... These are deaths that were not expected from Alzheimer’s disease that increased during that period.”
The data is not exactly spot-on, as people with Alzheimer's and dementia are usually those found in retirement settings, where the coronavirus can often wreak havoc due to the proximity of individuals and their older age. Any other conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or cancers, could also contribute to such a high number of deaths. So far, it seems more research is needed, although the average of deaths in patients with Alzheimer's and dementia has skyrocketed in 2020. Virginia records an increase of 22%, Maryland shows an increase of 18%, and nationwide shows an increase of 16% deaths of people who have Alzheimer's or dementia.
Harrison looks to more research, saying, “We would want to know why this increase has occurred and what steps we can take to prevent it from continuing to occur now and in future situations that are similar to this COVID-19. We are very much concerned about it.”
So far, the Alzheimer's Association has provided an active role in encouraging both state and federal entities to provide for those with Alzheimer's and dementia. The Association champions long-term care settings.
Overall, Harrison says being attentive and understanding of your loved ones is important; mentioning caregivers should pay attention as well. He advises that caregivers should always be vigilant when caring for an individual with Alzheimer's and dementia, especially in regards to communicating openly and often with other caregivers or facility personnel. Further, he recommends that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and CDC guidelines should be strictly followed.
Alzheimer's and dementia is a disease that affects the whole family. If you need support, go to alz.org or call the 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900.
Do you have a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer's or dementia? Have you lost a loved one to this disease this past year? Let us know in the comments.