21st May 2020

National statistics cite dementia as the most common underlying cause of COVID-19 deaths

On Friday 15th May, the Office of National Statistics released figures on underlying conditions for Covid-19 deaths for March and April in England and Wales. (https://www.politicshome.com/news/article/ons-figures-show-dementia-is-main-underlying-condition-for-covid19-deaths-alzheimers-society-comments)

The statistics revealed that:

• Out of 33,841 Covid-19 deaths, the most common main pre-existing condition was dementia, with one-fifth of deaths (6887 people)

• When all pre-existing conditions were taken into account, dementia accounted for one-quarter of deaths (8577 people)

• Even apart from COVID-19, deaths from dementia were 80% higher than usual in England and 50% higher in Wales

Coincidentally, 15th May also marked the beginning of Dementia Awareness Week, supported by the Alzheimer’s Society.

Dementia is not just about losing your memory: the World Health Organisation describes dementia as a syndrome with deterioration of memory, thinking, behaviour, and the ability to perform everyday activities over time. People with dementia also commonly show a decline in emotional control, social behaviour, or motivation. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.

There is much more to a person than their dementia, a sentiment that is reflected in the recurring theme for Dementia Awareness Week of ‘Remember the person’. Friends and relatives can find it very painful to be with their loved one, particularly in the later stages of the condition. However, even people with advanced dementia may have periods when they are aware of their surroundings.

Unfortunately, the search for a cure has not yet resulted in a successful treatment. However, clinical trials continue, and there are many ways in which care and support can be adapted for each patient to help them live well with dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Society website currently has a raft of ideas for fundraising without having to leave home (https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/events-and-fundraising/homegrown). For example, did you know that you can donate money to your charity of choice while you shop on Amazon Smile? (smile.amazon.co.uk)  

Now, more than ever, it is important to help the Alzheimer’s Society and other groups to support both those suffering from dementia and the people who care for them.