Alzheimer’s patient deaths spiked during the COVID pandemic, leaving caregivers of the vulnerable population on edge, officials said.
Nationwide, there were 42,000 more deaths from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in 2020 when compared to the average number of deaths over the last five years — a 16% increase, a recent report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds.
At the same time, the number of Alzheimer’s sufferers in New York is expected to increase by 12% by 2025, from 410,000 to 460,000, studies show.
Tips on how to deal with Alzheimer’s patients during the pandemic and how to brace for the future uptick will be discussed at a special educational conference put on by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America on Tuesday beginning at 10 a.m.
Jennifer Reeder, director of education and social services for the foundation says Alzheimer’s sufferers are prime targets for COVID-19.
“Their memory impairment also prevents them from taking protective measures against COVID, such as remembering to put on masks, so it impairs their ability to keep themselves safe,” said Reeder, adding that cases of anxiety and depression jumped in caregivers for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients during the height of the pandemic.
“Their greatest fear was spreading the illness to their loved ones,” Reed said. “They also took on more caregiving duties because their loved ones were unable to go to day programs and other activities.”
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia took the lives of 3,700 New Yorkers in 2019, according to the most recent stats.
“Knowledge is a useful and powerful tool that can help make any situation easier to navigate, especially something as challenging as caring for a loved one,” said Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., president of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. “Connecting families with useful, practical information and support that can help them now and be better prepared for the future is what this conference is all about.”