Concern: COVID-19 May Set the Stage for Alzheimer's

Science is still learning about COVID-19 and the consequences it has on health. Memory problems are the latest concern. Dementia is already a significant health issue, and planning is key.

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Concern: COVID-19 May Set the Stage for Alzheimer's
3 Min Read August 3rd, 2021 Updated:August 25th, 2021

Medical professionals know that the lack of taste and smell is an early symptom of COVID-19 infection. This reduction in your senses is because the virus is affecting the brain area that helps us sense odors.

Researchers at the University of Texas Health, San Antonio, are looking into a connection between those people with COVID-19 infections that experience persistent cognitive problems and the development of Alzheimer's.  

These San Antonio researchers are among many worldwide who are presenting their findings on how the COVID-19 virus affects the brain at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference.

Global studies looking at 40,000 patients will help answer the connection between COVID-19 and Alzheimer's. A Northwestern Medicine health system study found that over 80% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients had neurological symptoms. 

Mild COVID-19 Infections Can Cause Memory Problems

Mild cases of coronavirus infections, in some people, include brain fog and other cognitive problems, which is troubling for doctors and researchers. 

There also appears to be some scientific evidence implying it is very likely that COVID-19 can have long-term effects on the brains and nervous systems of those who were infected by the virus. 

The Alzheimer's Association is helping launch a study to understand better how COVID-19 could increase the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer's and psychiatric illnesses, including depression. 

Hope for Early Treatment and Cures

Answers may help medical researchers find better early treatments to avoid long-term cognitive issues due to virus infection. Cognitive decline often leads to an individual needing long-term care services and supervision, which are costly and not covered by health insurance and Medicare. Medicaid will pay for long-term care services if the person has little or no income and assets. Long-Term Care Insurance will also provide benefits, but you must purchase a policy when you have relatively good health.

There is so much that science does not yet understand about the COVID-19 virus. The research will help but will take time. The consequences of aging and cognitive decline are already a significant concern with families and their finances. 

Memory loss, brain fog, seizures, strokes, and neuropathy are just some of the health issues associated post COVID-19 infection. These health problems are also associated with a higher risk of needing long-term care services. 

Brain Function and COVID

Many research studies have associated COVID-19 infection and problems with brain function. One inevitable conclusion from research so far is that COVID-19 infection frequently leads to brain damage, particularly in those over age 70.

Some people infected with the virus suffer from anxiety and depression, in addition to lingering symptoms of difficulties with memory and thinking. Researchers have also discovered that some genes responsible for increasing the risk of severe COVID-19 infection are linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

All the more reasons to take precautions to avoid infection, get vaccinated, and plan for long-term health care when you are younger and still enjoy good health.

COVID-19 or not, planning for long-term care is essential. 

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

COVID or no COVID, more Americans than ever are suffering from some form of dementia as they get older. Preparing for the costs and burdens of aging and changing health is a vital part of an overall retirement plan.

Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance will give you the guaranteed tax-free benefits for your choice of quality care at home or in a facility. But remember, you must obtain coverage when you still have fairly good health. The best time is when you are in your 40s or 50s, when premiums are lower and your health is better.

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