-Dr Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC
A new epidemiological survey indicates that senior citizens with dementia are less often diagnosed with the flu, but have a 50% higher percentage of death than seniors without dementia.
Scientists are relating this vast difference to limited access to healthcare services and inadequate testing practices. Many senior citizens with dementia are not able to visit the doctor’s often or may not have the health insurance for hospital visits. Also, if they are able to get medical care, it is not the best.
Elena Naumova, professor of public health and community medicine at Tuft’s School of Medicine says, “It could be beneficial to refine guidelines for the immunization, testing, and treatment of flu in older patients with dementia when planning for the possibility of a flu pandemic.”
Similarly, the survey also showed that pneumonia and influenza rates were very high in poor and rural areas, where quality medical care is few and far between. This can cause a delay in diagnosing the flu which can lead to the more serious illness, pneumonia, which is the fifth highest cause of death in senior citizens.
This survey shows that it is important for doctors to treat seniors with dementias suffering from the flu in a different manner than they treat those without dementia.