This article describes some of the issues that older adults may face during the transition from the emergency phase to “phase 2” of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is written with regards to older adults in general and then discusses the implications on patients with dementia.
- Most countries are beginning to reopen or shift into “phase 2” of the pandemic. This creates new challenges that will disproportionately impact the older adult population.
- Social distancing and self-isolation policies have negatively impacted the health of older adults. This has taken form through missing scheduled clinical visits, social isolation, and increased sedentary lifestyle.
- People with dementia have been affected by social distancing and isolation which can lead to worse pre-existing neuropsychiatric symptoms such as agitation, depression, and feelings of loneliness or abandonment.
- Loss of nonpharmacological therapy for patients with dementia due to the pandemic may result in new or increasing dosages of psychoactive drugs, thereby causing undesired side effects.
- As “phase 2” rolls out, it will be necessary to prioritize resources for those who need them. Patients with dementia can be given a brief triage questionnaire focused on biopsychosocial status in order to determine those with the greatest need for immediate care.
- Remote care delivery strategies are often advantageous for older adults and especially those with dementia. We should continue to develop these systems and ensure that vulnerable populations have proper access to them.
Canevelli M, Bruno G, Cesari M. Providing Simultaneous COVID-19–sensitive and Dementia-Sensitive Care as We Transition from Crisis Care to Ongoing Care. J Am Med Dir Assoc. Published online May 21, 2020. doi:10.1016/j.jamda.2020.05.025
Summary authored by Daniel Chimitt with edits by Jennifer Carnahan, MD, MPH, MA