Nursing home residents and people living with dementia are greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nursing home residents and people living with dementia are greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What you need to know

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than three-quarters of the deaths caused by COVID-19 were in people age 65 and older. Data also show that adults age 65 and older who get COVID-19 are at a higher risk of hospitalization.

In order to improve health outcomes for older adults who get COVID-19, it is important to understand the impact of COVID-19 on particularly vulnerable populations, including people who live in nursing homes and people who have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and AD-related dementias (AD/ADRD). These people may have more comorbidities and are often less able to care for themselves.

A research initiative supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) is committed to lessening the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older populations, particularly those with dementia.

What are the researchers doing?

Established in 2019, the NIA IMbedded Pragmatic AD and AD/ADRD Clinical Trials (IMPACT) Collaboratory is a network of health care systems that conduct clinical trials to find interventions to help people living with dementia. NIA took advantage of the network to study this vulnerable population during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In one study, the IMPACT Collaboratory collected the electronic health records of more than 5,200 nursing home residents from 25 states who got COVID-19 between March and September 2020. The researchers analyzed the characteristics of nursing home residents who died within 30 days of testing positive for COVID-19. The results showed that nursing home residents with moderate or severe cognitive impairment who had COVID-19 were twice as likely to die as those with no or mild cognitive impairment. Other risk factors associated with death from COVID-19 were increased age, male sex, impaired physical function, and having diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Using data from CVS and Walgreens, IMPACT Collaboratory researchers are currently tracking adverse events related to the COVID-19 vaccine among people who are older adults or frail or who have dementia. Collecting these data is especially valuable since older people and people with dementia are often excluded from vaccine clinical trials. Initial results indicate that the COVID-19 vaccine is tolerated well by nursing home residents; researchers will continue to analyze the data for any long-term effects. CDC is also using these data to monitor vaccine-related adverse events.

Why is this research important?

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s significant impact on them, there has been limited research involving people with dementia and/or who are living in nursing homes. By leveraging the research capacity of the IMPACT Collaboratory, NIA is working to provide better care for older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Where can I go to learn more?

NIA IMPACT Collaboratory

  • Learn more about research being conducted by NIA’s IMPACT Collaboratory.

NIA AD/ADRD Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory

  • Researchers are tracking adverse events related to the COVID-19 vaccine in people who live in nursing homes and have dementia.

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). COVID Data Tracker. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#demographics.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 Associated Hospitalizations. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/COVIDNet/COVID19_5.html.

Oyebanji, O. A., Wilson, B., Keresztesy, D., Carias, L., Wilk, D., Payne, M., Aung, H., St. Denis, K., Lam, E. C., Rowley, C. F., Berry, S. D., Cameron, C. M., Cameron, M. J., Schmader, K. E., Balazs, A. B., King, C. L., Canaday, D. H., & Gravenstein, S. (2021). Does a lack of vaccine side effects correlate with reduced BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine response among healthcare workers and nursing home residents? Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 33(11), 3151–3160. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-021-01987-9

Panagiotou, O. A., Kosar, C. M., White, E. M., Bantis, L. E., Yang, X., Santostefano, C. M., Feifer, R. A., Blackman, C., Rudolph, J. L., Gravenstein, S., & Mor, V. (2021). Risk factors associated with all-cause 30-day mortality in nursing home residents with COVID-19. JAMA Internal Medicine, 181(4), 439–448. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.7968

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Page last updated: April 13, 2022