Does COVID-19 pose more of a threat to people who have Dementia?

Since the worldwide pandemic and subsequent lockdown began, the rules and guidelines to keep safe have been changed frequently, making it difficult for the public to keep track. Considering that Dementia causes a loss of memory and issues with thinking in general, people who suffer from the disease may find it more difficult than others to understand the new rules and why they are in place. Therefore, without the required assistance, people with Dementia may be at a higher risk of becoming infected by COVID-19.

This risk is increased further if the person living with Dementia has paid carers visiting them on a regular basis. Given the importance of the carers, this is an essential service which should be continued throughout the pandemic. However, each time the carer visits, they MUST ensure that they have the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes disposable gloves, masks and aprons.

There is evidence to suggest that the people who have Dementia and live in a care home are particularly vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 (Velayudhan et al., 2020). Therefore, in order to ensure optimal safety, the rules for visiting care homes are very restricted. This restriction has led to fewer visits to people in care homes and increased isolation, which in turn may lead to increased anxiety and higher levels of depression and loneliness (Gordon et al., 2020). In an attempt to combat these effects, The Social Care Institute for Excellence (2020) provides these guidelines on supporting people with Dementia in care homes.

If you require further information regarding the above, you can talk directly to care home facilities about any concerns you might have – Residential Care Support – COVID-19.

In England, all registered adult care homes can apply for COVID-19 tests. Further information regarding this area can be found at Care home tests – GOV.UK.

The NHS has stated that people who have underlying health issues may be more susceptible to COVID-19 and should take more care during the pandemic. Anybody who falls within this bracket has been labelled as ‘vulnerable’ and will have been instructed to begin ‘shielding’ via a letter from their GP, this involves minimal contact and isolation from others. The NHS provides guidelines which indicate who is at a higher risk of COVID-19 which can be accessed here.

Given the correlation between older age and Dementia, it is likely that a high proportion of the people who currently suffer from the disease are considered as ‘vulnerable’ to COVID-19. This is not because of Dementia itself, but the probability that the person is over the age of 70 and should therefore take extra precautions to remain safe.

Although people with Dementia who are visited by their carers may be at a higher risk than the general population, they do not fall into the highest risk group unless they have any other existing medial conditions. Therefore, these people are permitted and encouraged to leave their homes for daily exercise and to meet friends and family, so long as they abide by the social distancing rules.

Given the nature of the disease, anybody who has Dementia and many of their carers are already seen as ‘vulnerable adults’ by the NHS and other social care facilities. This term is commonly used when talking about general support needs or a person’s ability to protect themselves from harm. The term ‘vulnerable’ is not directly linked to COVID-19 and if you are unsure of the context surrounding the term it may be useful to contact your local GP.

There is lots of support available to help vulnerable people during this unfamiliar time, including advice on support bubbles, vaccines, food shopping and many more equally useful areas. For further information please visit the following – COVID-19 guidance.

If you require further information on living in an area with a high alert level, the following link should be able to help – Alert level: High.

Age UK. (2020). Coronavirus guidance. Retrieved from:

Alzheimer’s Society. (2020). Keeping in touch with a person with dementia in a care home through coronavirus. Retrieved from:

Department of Health and Social Care. (2020). Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested. Retrieved from:

Department of Health and Social Care. (2020). Local restriction tiers: what you need to know. Retrieved from:

Gordon, A., Goodman, C., Achterberg, W., Barker, R., Burns, E., Hanratty, B., Martin, F., Meyer, J., O’Neill, D., Schols, J. & Spilsbury, K. (2020). COVID in care homes – challenges and dilemmas in healthcare delivery. Age and Ageing, 49 (5), 701 – 705.

NHS. (2020). Who’s at higher risk from coronavirus. Retrieved from:

Social Care Institute for Excellence. (2020). Dementia in care homes and COVID-19. Retrieved from:

Velayudhan, L., Aarsland, D., & Ballard, C. (2020). Mental health of people living with dementia in care homes during COVID-19 pandemic. International Psychogeriatrics, 32 (10), 1253 – 1254.

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