People with dementia accounted for a quarter of all Covid-related deaths in England and Wales, and three-quarters of all deaths in care facilities globally, data shows.
The London School of Economics and University College London are looking at the mortality rate of those with dementia in a regularly updated report. According to their research, up to 75% of Covid-19 deaths globally in care facilities are those with dementia as an underlying condition.
People with dementia account for 25% of Covid-related deaths in England and Wales, 31% in Scotland and 19% in Italy. Age is the biggest risk factor for dementia and older people are the most at-risk group for coronavirus, with 86% of all deaths among people aged 65 and over.
The organisation Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) said the global community must form an action plan to protect those with dementia and that further data on high Covid-19 death rates was urgently needed.
“We need transparency. Governments must incorporate dementia into Covid response plans to protect the millions of people impacted by dementia globally,” said the ADI chief executive, Paola Barbarino. “They deserve dignity, and we need justice for those who have sadly died.”
Barbarino said emerging data, including findings from the LSE and UCL report, was extremely worrying and called on governments to act immediately.
“People with dementia are being disproportionately impacted by this pandemic and are in danger of being forgotten. Now more than ever we need to talk about dementia,” said Barbarino. “At the start of World Alzheimer’s Month, we are calling on governments to capture and publish transparent data and to increase support to protect vulnerable people with dementia.”
Barbarino said there had been alarming incidents of triaging Covid-19 patients based on age or condition, without access to transparent decision-making guidelines, leaving elderly communities and those with dementia at risk of being declined treatment.
“Governments must protect the rights of people with dementia, their right to access healthcare, treatment and support and, especially at this time, to palliative care,” said Barbarino. “Triage decisions must be based on rights, not on age or condition. We understand Covid-19 has put immense pressure on health systems globally, but we simply cannot let people with dementia slip through the cracks.”
She added: “There’s a clear link between governments who acted quickly to limit the spread of Covid-19 and lower mortality rates from the virus. We need governments to act immediately to protect our vulnerable communities. Governments must not waiver from their commitments identified in their national dementia plans or in developing plans, in line with the WHO global action plan on dementia, which 194 WHO member states ratified.”