Everyone is still reeling from the impact loss of companionship has had on our seniors, up to and including death. I read an interesting article in JAMA Neurology where the researchers evaluated the impact on COVID-19 on residents living with dementia, focused primarily on nursing home settings. The question was “is the COVID-19 pandemic associated with changes in mortality among older adults with Alzheimer Disease and related dementias (ADRD)?”
The researchers discussed the changes in health care delivery during the pandemic including transitioning to telehealth, lockdown and strict visitation procedures. They felt that measuring excess mortality along with changes in society would be an appropriate measure of both direct and indirect effects of the pandemic. The researchers used the Chronic Conditions Data Warehouse (CCW) algorithms to measure 3 relevant chronic conditions associated with poorer outcomes in the setting of COVID-19 infection: heart failure, diabetes, and lung cancer.
Bottom line, the conclusion is not surprising, older adults in nursing homes, especially those in racial and ethnic minority groups, are more susceptible to negative outcomes related to changes in health care delivery. So, look at what we have changed in an effort to “protect” our vulnerable seniors, has it actually caused more harm? Trust me, nothing we did wasn’t supported by what we knew at the time however, could it be time to relook at what we are currently doing? Remember, “changes in health care delivery”, even if we think it is a positive change, may lead to more disruption in our resident’s lives, so tread carefully. Put your heads together, talk about systems currently in place that were changed during the pandemic, discuss specific residents who may be experiencing declines, see if you can make subtle changes that would benefit each resident as well as your overall operation. Stay the course, stay informed and stay well!