A RISE in the use of sedation to manage ‘lockdown distress’ amongst the elderly may have contributed to a stark increase in dementia death rates, a charity has warned.

Figures show in all the deaths involving Covid-19 between March and June 2020, 92% had at least one pre-existing condition with dementia accounting for almost a third.

During one week in April there was a doubling in the death rates of Scots with dementia, compared to last year.

READ MORE: Lonely Glasgow pensioner says lockdown calls made life bearable 

Altzheimer Scotland said there is strong evidence that lockdown restrictions in care homes and hospitals led to increased levels of distress, loneliness and isolation for people with dementia and had accelerated the progression of the disease, “beyond what you would normally expect.”

Jim Pearson, Director of Policy and Research for the charity, said:“We have some idea without evidence that with the high levels of stress and anxiety affecting people with dementia that there was a potential that they may be being sedated.

“We don’t know that but we have an anxiety and concern. And how do you verify that because people weren’t getting visitors?

READ MORE: Deaths from dementia double in Scotland during lockdown 

“There is long-standing evidence that psychoactive medication can lead to higher levels of morbidity amongst people with dementia.

“There’s been a drive through Scotland’s dementia strategy to reduce the use of anti-psychotic medication.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said there is no evidence to suggest any changes to prescribing practice but said it is working closely with Alzheimer Scotland "to establish the facts behind any potential issues."

He added: “It is important that we remember that behind every statistic are friends and family who have lost a loved one.

“While these comments from Alzheimer Scotland are a stark statement about the profound impact COVID-19 has had on individuals and communities across Scotland, there is no evidence to suggest there has been any change in prescribing practice and we will work closely with them to establish the facts around these potential issues.

“Work is ongoing to better understand excess deaths during the pandemic. 

“The human-rights based principles on use of psychoactive medications in Scotland’s Dementia Care Standards are underpinned by a legal framework.

"These principles inform our national work with Alzheimer Scotland and others on supporting expansion of the use of therapeutic alternatives."

Glasgow Times:

The Glasgow Times is backing Alzheimer Scotland's campaign to ensure people with advanced dementia have access to free NHS care.