NH Residents with COVID-19 and Those Without Experience Similar Levels of Cognitive Decline

May 13, 2021

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had a serious impact on nursing home residents and older adults everywhere. A study in the May issue of JAMDA concluded that while COVID-19 can accelerate physical decline and frailty by about 20%, the virus also has a negative impact on cognitive performance due to the burdens of social isolation and containment.

Increase in Frailty in Nursing Home Survivors of COVID-19; Comparison with Non-Infected Residents involved nursing home residents infected with the COVID-19 virus matched by age to a control group of residents not infected. Between pre- and post-COVID-19 assessments, the authors found a 19% greater deterioration in handgrip and a 21% greater increase in frailty scores in cases compared with controls. The COVID-19 survivors also had a four-fold increased chance of developing frailty, compared with residents in the control group.

In both case and control groups there was a 10% decrease in Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores over the study period. The authors observed, “The fact that we found no differences in decline between cases and controls suggests the possible burden attributable to preventive measures and social restriction could have involved all the nursing home residents.” However, this calls for further study as, the researchers observed, “We cannot exclude the possibility that SARS-Co-V-2 infection leads to a worsening of cognitive status in the longer term and therefore supports the need to closely monitor the cognitive status of COVID-19 patients over time to identify possible subsequent decline.”

The authors concluded, “These findings highlight the importance of maintaining daily activities, even in alternative forms, to ensure that institutionalized individuals receive adequate physical and cognitive stimulation.”

The study was conducted by researchers at the Department of Medicine (DIMED), Geriatrics Division, University of Padua, Italy; National Research Council, Neuroscience Institute, Padua Aging Branch, Italy; and Istituto Alta Vita-IRA, Padua, Italy.

Click here for more information on the findings above and more details about the study. To contact the researchers or JAMDA editor for an interview, please email emullally@paltc.org.



JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit www.jamda.com for more information.

About AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit www.paltc.org for more information.