women wearing masks during COVID-19 pandemic

Less Psychosocial Problems in Patients with Dementia During Second COVID-19 Lockdown

Amsterdam, NL – Patients with dementia and their loved ones are now better able to adapt to the challenges of a lockdown. They reported less psychosocial problems, such as anxiety, during the second lockdown. They also experienced more social support compared to the first lockdown. This is the conclusion of a study, recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, into the psychosocial consequences of the pandemic for patients with dementia and their loved ones.

two women wearing masks walking outside during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic still poses enormous social challenges. People with cognitive impairments (problems with, for example, memory and concentration) and dementia are doubly affected by this pandemic. On the one hand, they have direct risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms. And on the other hand, the restrictive measures hit them extra hard. As a result of disrupted formal care, such as home care, the informal caregivers were extensively burdened. During the first lockdown in the Netherlands, people with cognitive complaints and their loved ones were affected by the discontinuation of support services. The second lockdown was more strict than the first: many shops were closed, a curfew was imposed, and home visits were limited to one person a day.

Cognitive decline
During the first lockdown, worries were reported for faster cognitive decline in patients with dementia. This is due to the cessation of formal care and the increase in psychosocial problems as a results of social isolation during lockdown. Whether there is actually a decline due to the lockdown is currently being investigated. This new study shows that patients and loved ones have adapted to the challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown. For example, during the second lockdown, patients and loved ones reported fewer psychosocial problems, such as anxiety, compared to the first lockdown. In addition, patients experienced more social social support compared to the first lockdown. Finally, the researchers found an important protective factor against negative feelings during the lockdown. Patients and loved ones who experienced support from family and friends reported fewer negative feelings, such as loneliness and sadness.

Effects of COVID-19
This is the second scientific publication of the POLAR project: Psychosocial effects of COVID-19 in Alzheimer's disease. ZonMw made a COVID-19 grant available in 2020 for the project, which is led by Wiesje van der Flier, who is assisted by researchers Ingrid van Maurik and Els Bakker, all of Alzheimer Center Amsterdam, Amsterdam UMC. This means that research will be continued into the effects of the COVID-19 measures on patients with cognitive impairments and their loved ones. Alzheimer Center Amsterdam is joining forces with Alzheimer Nederland, Pharos and Hersenonderzoek.nl. They investigate the psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 measures, look at cognitive decline as a result of the loss of care and structure and look at the effects on care use. An important part of POLAR is that the findings are put into practice through toolkits, webinars, and video clips.


Full openly available study
: "Psychosocial Effects of COVID-19 Measures on (Pre-)Dementia Patients During Second Lockdown" by Els D. Bakker, Ingrid S. van Maurik, Arenda Mank, Marissa D. Zwan, Lisa Waterink, Susanne van den Buuse, Jennifer R. van den Broeke, Freek Gillissen, Marleen van de Beek, Evelien Lemstra, Karlijn A. van den Bosch, Mardou van Leeuwenstijn, Femke H. Bouwman, Philip Scheltens, and Wiesje M. van der Flier (DOI: 10.3233/JAD-215342), published online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in advance of the publication of Volume 86, Issue 2. The article is available at: content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad215342.

About the POLAR project
The POLAR project is a research project of Alzheimer Center Amsterdam of Amsterdam UMC, Pharos and Alzheimer Nederland, with the aim of making people with dementia more resilient to the consequences of the COVID-19 measures by developing applicable information.


POLAR, ZonMw #10430 03201 0004

About the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Now in its 24th year of publication, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD) is an international multidisciplinary journal to facilitate progress in understanding the etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, genetics, behavior, treatment, and psychology of Alzheimer’s disease. The journal publishes research reports, reviews, short communications, book reviews, and letters-to-the-editor. Groundbreaking research that has appeared in the journal includes novel therapeutic targets, mechanisms of disease, and clinical trial outcomes. JAD has a Journal Impact Factor of 4.472 according to Journal Citation Reports (Clarivate, 2021). The journal is published by IOS Press. j-alz.com

About IOS Press
IOS Press is an independent international scientific, technical, medical (STM) publishing house established in 1987 in Amsterdam. We produce around 90 journals and 70 books annually in a broad range of subject categories, primarily specializing in biomedical and life sciences (including neurosciences, medical informatics, cancer research, rehabilitation) and physical sciences (including computer sciences, artificial intelligence, engineering). In addition, we offer specialized services that support scientific advancement. iospress.com