Excess Mortality Among Assisted Living Residents with Dementia During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Journal of the American Medical Directors Association

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Publication Date



COVID-19 (Disease) -- United States -- Health care, Long-term care of the sick -- Oregon -- Portland, Older people -- Services for -- Oregon, Aging population


Objective: To evaluate whether assisted living (AL) residents with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) experienced a greater rate of excess all-cause mortality during the first several months of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to residents without ADRD, and to compare excess all-cause mortality rates in memory care vs general AL among residents with ADRD.

Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting and

participants: Two cohorts of AL residents enrolled in Medicare Fee-For-Service who resided in 9-digit zip codes corresponding to US AL communities of ≥25 beds during calendar year 2019 or 2020. Method: By linking Medicare claims and Vital Statistics data, we examined the weekly excess all-cause mortality rate, comparing the rate from March 12, 2020, to December 31, 2020, to the rate from January 1, 2019, to March 11, 2020. We adjusted for demographics, chronic conditions, AL community size, and county fixed effects.

Results: Of the 286,350 residents in 2019 and the 273,601 in 2020 identified in these cohorts, approximately 31% had a diagnosis of ADRD. Among all AL residents, the excess weekly mortality rate in 2020 was 49.1 per 100,000 overall during the pandemic. Compared to residents without ADRD, residents with ADRD experienced 33.4 more excess deaths per 100,000 during the pandemic. Among residents with ADRD, those who resided in memory care communities did not experience a statistically significant different mortality rate than residents who lived in general AL.

Conclusions and implications: AL residents with ADRD were more vulnerable to mortality during COVID-19 than residents without ADRD, a finding similar to those reported in other settings such as nursing homes. Additionally, the study provides important new information that residents with ADRD in memory care communities may not have been at differential risk of COVID-19 mortality when compared to residents with ADRD in general AL, despite prior research suggesting they have more advanced dementia.


Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier Inc.



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