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Nursing Home Residents with Dementia Are Disproportionately Affected by the Pandemic

In the midst of the pandemic, Katie Engelhart, a New York Times Journalist who reports on aging, set out to understand how COVID-19 was affecting nursing home residents with dementia. In her work, she talked to doctors, caretakers, scientists, psychologists, and individuals with dementia to gain insight into what it was like to live through a disorienting time inside a mind that is already considerably confused. 

Unsurprisingly, some of her earliest observations were that nursing home residents with dementia weren’t compliant with mask protocols, were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in comparison to other residents, and were consistently found wandering around the grounds. 

Individuals with Dementia Are One of the Most Affected Groups of the Pandemic

In her op-ed for the New York Times, Engelhart suggested that early research conducted on dementia patients indicates they are among one of the most affected groups of the pandemic. A study from Japan, published in September 2020, found that individuals with mild levels of Alzheimer’s or dementia were more likely to experience pandemic-related depression than those with more severe cases of these diseases. 

In addition to these mental side effects, the death toll shows that, compared with other individuals in vulnerable elderly age groups, people with dementia are more susceptible to contracting COVID and dying from the disease. However, scientists remain unsure if this is related to the behavior dementia patients present or if it has more to do with the pathology of the disease. 

The Pandemic Has Highlighted the Fragile Infrastructure of Dementia Care

Of all her findings, one that particularly struck home for Engelhart was how the pandemic has highlighted the fragile nature of dementia care—how the blended networks of formal and informal care collapse under strain. What has become brutally transparent over the past year, is that the approach to dementia care amidst the pandemic has failed individuals struggling from the disease. 

One doctor Engelhart interviewed compared the bans on caregivers to taking a wheelchair away from a person with physical disabilities. Yet, many doctors and caretakers remain divided on the issue. Some geriatricians describe the separation between dementia patients and their caregivers as upsetting but necessary for overall safety. Others believe that caregivers should have been recognized as essential parts of dementia healthcare infrastructure. All can agree that COVID has created unimaginable hardship for individuals struggling with dementia.

Call an Expert Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in New York City

If you believe that a member of your family struggling with dementia is caught up in a harmful or neglectful situation in their nursing home, contact the trusted attorneys at Dalli & Marino. We’re a group of skilled attorneys dedicated to fighting for the rights of nursing home residents. We comprehensively understand New York’s specific regulations and government healthcare, allowing us to provide the best legal counsel to our clients.  

At Dalli & Marino, we are committed to ensuring our clients receive fair compensation for the experience they endured. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients since 1996. We approach each case on an individual basis and serve to help you or your loved one recover the money you need to compensate for your injury or illness. Give us a call at (888) 465-8790 or complete our contact form today.


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