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34,000 people with dementia thought to have died of Covid in UK

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More than 34,000 people with dementia are estimated to have died from coronavirus in the UK since the start of the pandemic, according to new figures.

The condition has been identified in just over a quarter of all deaths due to COVID-19, partly due to the large number of deaths in care homes. Nearly 12,000 care home residents have died since January alone.

A coalition of charities, including Alzheimer's Society, Dementia UK, John's Campaign and Together in Dementia Every Day (tide), are now calling for introduction of universal social care – free at the point of use like the NHS – as a legacy of COVID-19.

It comes as new figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed that deaths of care home residents, where around 70% of people have dementia, are 30%t higher than previously thought. Nearly 12,000 have died since January alone.

The charities also revealed the result of a survey of 1,001 people who care for someone close to them with dementia, demonstrating that the toll of the pandemic reaches further than simply deaths from the virus. More than nine in ten (92%) said the pandemic had accelerated their loved one's dementia symptoms, with a third (31%) reported a more rapid increase in difficulty speaking and holding a conversation, and a quarter (25%) in eating by themselves.

Nearly a third (32%) of those who lost a loved one during the pandemic thought that isolation/lack of social contact was a significant factor in that loss.

The Alzheimer Society and Dementia UK said their helplines had been flooded with calls from relatives reporting how quickly their loved ones were deteriorating.

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Source: The Independent, 1 March 2021

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