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Fri, 3 July 2020

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ONS report shows a 52% increase in excess deaths of people dying of dementia – Alzheimer’s Society comments

Alzheimer’s Society

2 min read

A new report on death registrations not associated with COVID-19 from the ONS has given insight into the number of excess dementia deaths in England and Wales during the pandemic.

The largest increases in non-COVID-19 deaths compared to the five-year average are seen in deaths due to "dementia and Alzheimer disease" and "symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions". 

There has been a 52.2% increase in excess deaths of people dying of dementia. This 52.2% represents 5,404 excess deaths of people with dementia.

Fiona Carragher, Director of Policy and Influencing at Alzheimer’s Society said:  

“We already knew people with dementia have been worst hit by the virus, accounting for a quarter of all the deaths we’ve seen. But this 52% increase in excess deaths of people with dementia during the pandemic is staggering. It is the largest surge in deaths of any health condition. There are so many grieving families around the country who need answers. We must understand what’s going on here. In care homes, we suspect isolation, fewer visitors, the resulting onset of depression, as well as interruption to health services are contributing, but there is surely also underreporting of Covid-19 deaths. Early research is showing many people with dementia don’t display typical symptoms, or may even be asymptomatic. We must have regular testing of all care home staff and residents to keep people safe.  

“Our Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Connect support line, which we’re fighting to keep open despite facing loss of half our total income, is taking calls from people every day feeling hopeless at the deterioration of their loved ones. We know what good dementia care looks like, and social contact is key to keeping people with dementia well. The Government has to think hard about how to protect the lives of people with dementia if there is a second peak, we cannot have this scale of tragedy again.”

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