The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on neuropsychiatric symptoms in dementia and carer mental health: an international multicentre study

Grace Wei, Janine Diehl-Schmid, Jordi A. Matias-Guiu, Yolande Pijnenburg, Ramon Landin-Romero, Hans Bogaardt, Olivier Piguet, Fiona Kumfor

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As a global health emergency, the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) led to the implementation of widespread restrictions (e.g., quarantine, physical/social distancing measures). However, while these restrictions reduce the viral spread of COVID-19, they may exacerbate behavioural and cognitive symptoms in dementia patients and increase pressure on caregiving. Here, we aimed to assess the impact of COVID-19 and related restrictions on both carers and people living with dementia across the world. We conducted an international survey (Australia, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands) to assess the impact of COVID-19 on carers and people living with dementia. People with dementia experienced worsened neuropsychiatric symptoms since the outbreak of COVID-19, most commonly, depression, apathy, delusions, anxiety, irritability, and agitation. Regression analyses revealed that limited understanding of the COVID-19 situation and not living with the carer was associated with worsened neuropsychiatric symptoms. Carers also reported a decline in their own mental health, increased stress and reduced social networks as a result of COVID-19 and related restrictions. Regression analyses revealed uncertainty about the future and loneliness were associated with worsened carer mental health. Findings from this study will inform strategies for the development of support services and compassionate protocols that meet the evolving needs of those living with dementia and their carers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2418
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

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