Deadly toll of care homes ban: Halting visits is linked to 5,000 EXTRA dementia deaths in nursing units, figures reveal
- The death toll was 52 per cent higher than normal between March and May
- An extra 5,404 Brits died from dementia when compared with five year average
- Up to 80 per cent of the 5,404 excess dementia deaths were in care homes
More than 5,000 dementia patients died needlessly during lockdown – most of them in care homes, official figures show.
Between March 7 and May 1, when blanket visiting bans were in place, the toll was 52 per cent higher than normal.
Over the past five years an average of 10,345 Britons died from dementia in the same eight-week period, according to the Office for National Statistics.
But this year the figure hit 15,749 – meaning there were 5,404 excess and potentially avoidable deaths.
More than 5,000 dementia patients died needlessly during lockdown – most of them in care homes, official figures show. Stock picture
The fatalities were not related to Covid – and another 13,840 dementia sufferers died from the virus from March to June. Up to 80 per cent of these 5,000 excess dementia deaths were in care homes.
Experts believe the prolonged social isolation in lockdown is likely to have contributed.
Isolation has been shown to accelerate the progression of dementia – for many the best medicine is the chance to hold the hand of the person they love.
Julia Jones, of the dementia rights organisation John’s Campaign, said: ‘Because dementia is neurodegenerative, visits are essential to promote wellbeing and provide stimulation that helps to prevent their condition deteriorating.
‘By taking away their visits, you are damaging these people clinically. You are taking away their medicine. It is an essential part of their care, just as essential as food or drugs, and you wouldn’t take that away.’
The Mail has seen a major study – led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine – which found that many dementia sufferers have stopped eating or drinking at some point since the pandemic began.
Up to 80 per cent of these 5,000 excess dementia deaths were in care homes. Stock picture
The study said isolation had ‘enormous impacts on residents’ – 28 per cent of care home residents had reduced the amount they ate, often leading to weight loss and frailty. It also found that 84 per cent of site managers reported a low mood among their residents, with almost all saying this was due to lack of visitors.
Of the 411,000 care home residents in the UK, 70 per cent have dementia. Research by the Alzheimer’s Society shows that more than four-fifths of people with dementia have suffered a decline in memory, concentration and the ability to perform daily tasks during the pandemic.
Half reported increased memory loss and concentration problems. More than one in four said reading and writing were more difficult, while one in three said speaking and listening had become worse.
Overall, one in four of those who died from Covid-19 between March and June had dementia.
And more than 25,000 dementia patients died in March and April alone – twice the figure from previous years. Normally, the Office for National Statistics would expect 11,800 dementia patients to die over this two-month period, again based on the average figures for the past five years. Although many succumbed to the virus itself, thousands of others are feared to have died from conditions brought on by inadequate medical care and a lack of social contact.
Charities have been contacted by hundreds of relatives who say loved ones are going downhill.
Professor Alistair Burns, NHS England national clinical director for dementia and older people’s mental health, said: ‘The extraordinary events of this year have been challenging for older people and no one should feel ashamed, reluctant or worried about asking for help.’
Source: Read Full Article