If a person with dementia does catch coronavirus, they are at higher risk of getting a worse COVID-19 illness.
The risk of severe symptoms rises steeply with age, and 9 in 10 deaths have been in people over 60. Most people with dementia and many older carers will fall into a higher risk group on age alone.
Long-term health conditions also significantly raise the risk of severe illness. Some of the more common of these – heart or blood vessel disease and diabetes – are more often seen in people with dementia.
There is some evidence that dementia itself may add a further risk on top of age and these other health conditions, but this is not certain.
It is not clear why, but men and people from black and minority ethnic communities, with or without dementia, are also at increased risk. This link is not explained by age or long-term health conditions.
As explained above, however, people with dementia and many older carers are at higher risk than the general population. Therefore, people with dementia are “vulnerable” on health grounds, but not “clinically extremely vulnerable”. This is why they can leave the house to exercise, follow local guidance on who they can meet outdoors or to shop (if they have to), but must follow the social distancing rules very carefully.