Psychosocial Effects of Corona Measures on Patients With Dementia, Mild Cognitive Impairment and Subjective Cognitive Decline

Ingrid S. van Maurik, Els D. Bakker, Susanne van den Buuse, Freek Gillissen, Marleen van de Beek, Evelien Lemstra, Arenda Mank, Karlijn A. van den Bosch, Mardou van Leeuwenstijn, Femke H. Bouwman, Philip Scheltens, Wiesje M. van der Flier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The recent COVID-19 pandemic is not only a major healthcare problem in itself, but also poses enormous social challenges. Though nursing homes increasingly receive attention, the majority of people with cognitive decline and dementia live at home. We aimed to explore the psychosocial effects of corona measures in memory clinic (pre-)dementia patients and their caregivers. Methods: Between April 28th and July 13th 2020, n = 389 patients of Alzheimer center Amsterdam [n = 121 symptomatic (age = 69 ± 6, 33%F, MMSE = 23 ± 5), n = 268 cognitively normal (age = 66 ± 8, 40% F, MMSE = 29 ± 1)] completed a survey on psychosocial effects of the corona measures. Questions related to social isolation, worries for faster cognitive decline, behavioral problems and discontinuation of care. In addition, n = 147 caregivers of symptomatic patients completed a similar survey with additional questions on caregiver burden. Results: Social isolation was experienced by n = 42 (35%) symptomatic and n = 67 (25%) cognitively normal patients and two third of patients [n = 129 (66%); n = 58 (75%) symptomatic, n = 71 (61%) cognitively normal] reported that care was discontinued. Worries for faster cognitive decline were existed in symptomatic patients [n = 44 (44%)] and caregivers [n = 73 (53%)], but were also reported by a subgroup of cognitively normal patients [n = 27 (14%)]. Both patients [n = 56 (46%) symptomatic, n = 102 (38%) cognitively normal] and caregivers [n = 72 (48%)] reported an increase in psychological symptoms. More than three quarter of caregivers [n = 111(76%)] reported an increase in patients' behavioral problems. A higher caregiver burden was experienced by n = 69 (56%) of caregivers and n = 43 (29%) of them reported that a need for more support. Discontinuation of care (OR = 3.3 [1.3–7.9]), psychological (OR = 4.0 [1.6–9.9]) and behavioral problems (OR = 3.0 [1.0–9.0]) strongly related to experiencing a higher caregiver burden. Lastly, social isolation (OR = 3.2 [1.2–8.1]) and psychological symptoms (OR = 8.1 [2.8–23.7]) were red flags for worries for faster cognitive decline. Conclusion: Not only symptomatic patients, but also cognitively normal patients express worries for faster cognitive decline and psychological symptoms. Moreover, we identified patients who are at risk of adverse outcomes of the corona measures, i.e., discontinued care, social isolation, psychological and behavioral problems. This underlines the need for health care professionals to provide ways to warrant the continuation of care and support (informal) networks surrounding patients and caregivers to mitigate the higher risk of negative psychosocial effects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number585686
JournalFrontiers in psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2020


  • COVID-19
  • MCI
  • SCD
  • behavioral problems
  • dementia
  • discontinuation of care
  • psychosocial effects

Cite this