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The experiences of people with dementia and cognitive impairment during the COVID-19 pandemic

Webinar, Tuesday 29th November, 11:00 – 12:00

The COVID-19 pandemic had a wide range of impacts on individuals and societies across the world. Some groups, such as older people living with dementia, were at greater risk of experiencing worse impacts from the pandemic.

To understand this better, our team examined a wide range of experiences among people with dementia and mild cognitive impairment during the pandemic in England, exploring if and how these differed compared to people with no cognitive impairment. This 18-month project, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, drew on data collected during the pandemic in 2020 as part of ELSA.

During the webinar, you will hear from the project’s Principal Investigator, Prof Paola Zaninotto, and the lead researcher, Dr Brian Beach, from the UCL Research Department of Epidemiology & Public Health. They will share findings across key domains from the project: shielding (staying at home or self-isolating), access to community health and care services, healthy behaviours and lifestyle practices, and mental health and wellbeing.

Among the key findings are:

  • Having dementia or mild cognitive impairment was not linked to differences in disrupted access to health and care services during the pandemic, but some regional inequalities were found with respect to this disruption across different cognitive function groups.

  • People with dementia were more physically inactive and experienced greater disruption to their sleep quality during the pandemic.

  • While levels of mental health and wellbeing were worse among people with dementia prior to the pandemic, similar levels were observed among all cognitive function groups by Nov/Dec 2020.

This work highlights the need for clear, easy-to-understand guidance and public messaging on health issues, accessible regardless of cognition or education. It also underscores the need for vigilance to ensure equitable access to care and support services among those with dementia, particularly to support sleep, physical activity, and mental health.

Image courtesy of the Centre for Ageing Better Image Library


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