Awareness of the COVID-19 Outbreak and Resultant Depressive Tendencies in Patients with Severe Alzheimer's Disease

J Alzheimers Dis. 2020;77(2):539-541. doi: 10.3233/JAD-200832.


The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has substantially affected patients with dementia and their caregivers. However, we found not all Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients were afraid of COVID-19 infection. Therefore, we investigated the association between rate of awareness of COVID-19 and depressive tendency in AD. 126 consecutive outpatients with AD were enrolled in this study from May 25, on the day when the declaration of emergency was lifted in Japan, through June 30, 2020. In addition to routine psychological tests, the participants were asked the following two questions: "Do you know COVID-19?" and "Why are you wearing a face mask?". Moderate to severe AD patients were found to have a low COVID-19 recognition rate and did not fully understand why they were wearing face masks. In addition, because they did not understand the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak, their Geriatric Depression Scale scores were also substantially lower. These results may appear to simply indicate that people with severe dementia are unaware of current events. However, these results provide insights into how to care for patients with dementia and how to allocate the time and support of our limited staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; COVID-19; dementia; dementia care.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease* / diagnosis
  • Alzheimer Disease* / psychology
  • Alzheimer Disease* / virology
  • Awareness*
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Communicable Disease Control / organization & administration
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / prevention & control
  • Coronavirus Infections* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mental Competency*
  • Pandemics* / prevention & control
  • Patient Care* / methods
  • Patient Care* / trends
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / psychology
  • Psychosocial Support Systems
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severity of Illness Index