The UsA2 surveys include respondents living with a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), Alzheimer’s, or another dementia. In the latest survey, taken May 8-13, 52 respondents living with a diagnosis report having more stress (65 percent) and feel more isolated (60 percent) since the COVID-19 restrictions went into place in March.
More than four in 10 (42 percent) of these respondents with a diagnosis also believed that their care partner’s stress level is higher (as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
More than a third (37 percent) of respondents living with dementia or MCI had concerns about their own health since the coronavirus crisis started. In addition to the survey responses, written comments to open-ended survey questions survey show increased anxiety and loneliness among people with a diagnosis.
In their written comments, people living with the disease used words such as “depressed” and “anxious” to describe themselves during the COVID-19 closures.
“Extreme anxiety about leaving the house. Dementia causes me to get lost sometimes while walking, driving, etc., and there are very few people out that might help me,” one man said.
“I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread mentally,” one woman wrote.
“No relationships with family and friends; I keep wondering when this virus will end,” one man wrote.
“I prefer time to myself, but being forced to isolate and inability to have some time with others has affected my mental state very adversely,” another woman said.
“The little social contact I had before has now almost entirely diminished,” said one man. “Seem to be more forgetful and harder to say what I mean,” another wrote.
Caregivers Seeing Increased Confusion, Accelerated Decline in Loved Ones
Caregivers say their loved ones with dementia are deteriorating more quickly as a result of shutdowns and isolation. Loved ones are more confused and agitated, and their dementia symptoms are getting worse, caregivers reported in written comments to survey questions. And caregivers feel they can’t manage alone without outside help, which is made more challenging with social distancing.
“My loved one with Alzheimer’s has stopped initiating conversation; when prompted she says little. It’s a marked decrease and very disheartening,” one caregiver wrote, adding: “My loved one has become suspicious of us and depressed believing her friends have abandoned her and the daughter living outside the home doesn’t care for her.”
“Without outside means to entertain and divert him, it is harder to keep my patience with having to explain why we cannot go places every five minutes; he is more confused and needs constant supervision,” one wrote.
“The isolation is infecting my wife who has dementia,” one man wrote. “What’s the disease of lack of social stimulation?”