Poll by Physicians Group Find COVID-19 Has Taken a Mental Toll

AARP Now - October 23, 2020

COVID-19 has taken a toll on the brain health of older Americans, according to a new poll.

The poll of more than 1,005 U.S. adults was conducted for MDVIP, a nationwide network of physicians who practice membership-based health care and provide wellness and preventative services.

Forty-six percent of Americans age 55 and older have experienced changes in sleeping patterns during the pandemic, while 44 percent complained of moodiness or other personality changes. Some 36 percent say they've withdrawn from loved ones.

Among U.S. adults with a relative or friend suffering from cognitive impairment, 67 percent say that the person has experienced difficulty coping with less in-person contact.

A second MDVIP poll of 1,217 U.S. adults found that 70 percent of 55-and-older Americans are worried about suffering cognitive decline, and 36 percent know or have known someone who suffers from Dementia. Even so, 74 percent say they haven't talked with their doctor about lifestyle habits that can promote better brain health. Sixty-five percent have never had cognitive assessment, 57 percent have never been screened for depression and 39 percent haven't had a neurological exam.

Andrea Klemes, M.D., MDVIP's chief medical officer, said via email that Americans, particularly older ones, should talk with their primary physician about being screened for Dementia, in the same fashion that they're checked for signs of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. "In addition to a baseline and regular cognitive assessments, they should also screen for conditions that affect brain health such as depression and hearing loss", she said.

Doctors also can screen older patients for treatable conditions such as thyroid problems and depression that can be mistaken for Alzheimer's disease, Klemes said.


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