Life during COVID-19 lockdown in Italy: the influence of cognitive state on psychosocial, behavioral and lifestyle profiles of older adults

Arenn Faye Carlos, Tino Emanuele Poloni, Martina Caridi, Marco Pozzolini, Roberta Vaccaro, Elena Rolandi, Alice Cirrincione, Laura Pettinato, Silvia Francesca Vitali, Livio Tronconi, Mauro Ceroni, Antonio Guaita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Few studies have examined lockdown effects on the way of living and well-being of older adults stratified by cognitive state. Since cognitive deficits are common in this population, we investigated how cognition influenced their understanding of the pandemic, socio-behavioral responses and lifestyle adaptations during lockdown, and how these factors affected their mood or memory.

METHOD: Telephone-based survey involving 204 older adults ≥65 y/o (median: 82) with previous assessments of cognitive state: 164 normal-old (NOLD), 24 mild-neurocognitive disorder (mild-NCD), 18 mild-moderate dementia. A structured questionnaire was developed to assess psychological and socio-behavioral variables. Logistic regression was used to ascertain their effects on mood and memory.

RESULTS: With increasing cognitive deficits, understanding of the pandemic and the ability to follow lockdown policies, adapt to lifestyle changes, and maintain remote interactions decreased. Participants with dementia were more depressed; NOLDs remained physically and mentally active but were more bored and anxious. Sleeping and health problems independently increased the likelihood of depression (OR: 2.29; CI: 1.06-4.93; p = 0.034 and OR: 2.45; CI: 1.16-5.16; p = 0.018, respectively); Regular exercise was protective (OR: 0.30; CI: 0.12-0.72; p = 0.007). Worsening subjective memory complaints were associated with dementia (p = 0.006) and depression (p = 0.004); New-onset sleeping problems raised their odds (OR: 10.26; CI: 1.13-93.41; p = 0.039). Finally, >40% with health problems avoided healthcare mainly due to fear of contagion.

DISCUSSION: NOLD and mild-NCD groups showed similar mood-behavioral profiles suggesting better tolerance of lockdown. Those with dementia were unable to adapt and suffered from depression and cognitive complaints. To counteract lockdown effects, physical and mental activities and digital literacy should be encouraged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalAging and Mental Health
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jan 15 2021


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