LANSING, Mich. — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise so do deaths among specific communities.
In Michigan, deaths among people with Alzheimer’s and dementia have seen a significant increase.
The Alzheimer’s Association is blaming that on COVID-19.
Colin Ford, Public Policy Director of the Lansing Area Alzheimer’s Association said 1 thousand people in Michigan have died from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia this year.
The Centers for Disease Control is reporting the number of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia who are dying is up 16.6 percent through September of this year. The reason? Covid-19.
Ford said it it could be due to undiagnosed COVID-19 tests.
He said, “People are foregoing or differing healthcare. Not seeing their doctor, not wanting to go to the hospital for concerns of not wanting to be exposed to COVID.”
Self-isolation also plays a role in an increase in deaths.
Ford said, “A high percentage of people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia are in long-term care sites. So again, it could be loneliness. It could be just a lack of interaction that they really crave that puts them at risk as well.”
The Alzheimer’s Association said an increase in rapid COVID-19 testing at care facilities could save lives.
“When you start looking at the prioritization of availability like rapid turnaround testing, that has a huge impact in terms of keeping people safe in long-term care settings," said Ford. "But it also makes it possible for things like visitation to occur, so people can see their loved ones if testing is available. Same thing for personal protective equipment.”
Ford said it comes down to the availability of tests and the commitment of the people caring for these vulnerable patients.
The Alzheimers Association is working with lawmakers to reduce visitor restrictions in long-term care facilities.
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