As with many facets of healthcare and wellness, the importance of cognitive care planning has increased in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that half of all long-term care facility patients suffer from some sort of dementia or cognitive decline. And maintaining their physical and mental wellbeing has been an enormous challenge since the pandemic began. As recently as July, an estimated 15,000 additional Alzheimer’s and dementia-related deaths have been reported due to the novel coronavirus — and many of these deaths were not caused directly by COVID-19.
A dramatic increase in dementia-related deaths
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities were early epicenters for virus outbreaks due to the nature of their care environments. Their patients continue to be among the highest risk for fatality from COVID-19 infection. By mid-April, as many as 250 additional Alzheimer’s and dementia-related deaths were being recorded every day, representing an 18% increase in what was, as of the latest available data from 2018, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
The domino effect of COVID’s disruptive nature
What’s alarming beyond the pure statistics is that Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are among the most vulnerable in our communities, especially when it comes to disruption to routine or sudden lack of interaction with loved ones. Many of the deaths counted since the pandemic began sprang not from COVID-19 itself, but from its effects — lack of visitation from family and friends, new routines for eating or activities, and a rise in isolation. Increased agitation in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients can lead to events such as falls, while issues like dehydration can emerge from increased stress or depression.
BrainCheck Supports Consistent Cognitive Care
As the pandemic continues to affect millions of Americans and their families, cognitive care planning has never been more important. Disruptions in care are another driving factor in increased dementia-related deaths as COVID-19 diverts healthcare resources and makes physical connections challenging or impossible. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are often some of the most frail, and increased stress, confusion, and loneliness can result in death.
At a time when, according to a tally from The Wall Street Journal, 40% of known U.S. coronavirus deaths are among long-term care residents and staff, the importance of cognitive care is paramount. BrainCheck enables regular assessment of individuals experiencing cognitive decline, helping clinicians and providers track specific health issues, and helps create care plans that decrease the likelihood of falls and other debilitating events. It also makes remote care an option for nursing homes as telemedicine becomes an increasingly significant vehicle for care delivery.