“There was a significant decline in patients with dementia as a result of confinement”

Yesterday, the School of Commerce hosted the annual conference on Alzheimer’s organized by the Asturian Democratic Association of Families with Alzheimer’s (Adafa). One of the invited speakers was Carmen Martínez, a neurologist at Cabueñes Hospital, who highlighted the deterioration of patients with dementia observed as a result of confinement and the importance of caregivers of these patients becoming aware of the importance of not neglecting themselves. .

-It was said that the pandemicespecially with confinement, had increased the deterioration of this type of patient.

–Undoubtedly what we have observed is that the patients have worsened significantly and that the caregivers are more tired, stressed and overloaded. The confinement was very hard and since that phase we have observed a significant decline, both in people with dementia and in other types of patients who had a slight, very slight deterioration, and who later fell into a tailspin.

-What are the causes?

-A very important one was social isolation, there were older people who went through all this alone and that caused a significant decline. The psychological repercussion and the fear that they spent thinking about what could happen to them, and all that added to not being able to see their family and friends, also had an influence.

-Patients with greater deterioration will not even have been able to understand why they could not leave home.

–Yes, people with more advanced dementia did not understand it, or forgot it. There were cases of people who normally went out of their house for walks because they did not understand or had forgotten that they could not go out. Another cause of this decline was that the day centers were closed and face-to-face psychostimulation workshops were interrupted. Because one of the keys to stopping deterioration is to have healthy habits, in general: with walks every day, maintenance gymnastics, memory training. Whatever can be. And then I would add that, in general, there has been a worse vascular control of tension and diabetes issues. In the end, health care had to be very covid-centric, a lot of effort was put into it.

-And now? Is there a possibility of recovering part of the deterioration?

-As soon as the confinement ended, we resumed normality, we have been with more normalized care for about two years, although the day centers took a little longer to reopen. Normally, it is very rare that what has been lost can be recovered in cases of dementia. But at least now we can focus on slowing down the progression of deterioration again. If part of the worsening was due to the psychological state of the patient due to her isolation, that can be recovered. Re-socializing also implies improvements.

-Adafa always emphasizes the importance of workshops for this type of patient.

–They are very important and, sometimes, we make the mistake of summarizing them when the theme can be very varied. The general recommendation is to have healthy lifestyle habits, control everything that can worsen cerebral circulation: you should do daily physical exercise, be it aerobics or take a walk, and you should do cognitive training. And the latter has to be something that the person likes. Sometimes we insist that the patient do crossword puzzles and if he never did them he will not be interested. Anything goes: crochet, chess, solitaire. The important thing is to keep your mind active.

– What recommendations would you give to caregivers?

–That they look for a while every day for themselves. They must be in good physical and mental condition to be able to provide good care to be able to care. It is difficult, of course, but sometimes the caregiver also thinks excessively that he or she is the only valid figure and does not think that another family member or a day center can help with the task of care. They should not feel guilty. They must take care of themselves.

–The City Council is working on a plan to combat unwanted loneliness in old age.

-It is important. Loneliness and isolation are a factor clearly related to a worse cognitive state. This is scientifically described and is linked to depression problems, which are also a risk factor. It is very important to socialize, stay active.

“There was a significant decline in patients with dementia as a result of confinement”