The Effects of COVID-19 and Quarantine Measures on the Lifestyles and Mental Health of People Over 60 at Increased Risk of Dementia

Simona Gabriella Di Santo, Flaminia Franchini, Beatrice Filiputti, Angela Martone, Serena Sannino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The lockdown strategies adopted to limit the spread of COVID-19 infection may lead to adopt unhealthy lifestyles which may impact on the mental well-being and future risk of dementia. Older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or subjective cognitive decline (SCD) may suffer important mental health consequences from measures of quarantine and confinement. Aims: The study aimed to explore the effects of COVID-19 and quarantine measures on lifestyles and mental health of elderly at increased risk of dementia. Methods: One hundred and twenty six community-dwelling seniors with MCI or SCD were phone-interviewed and assessed with questions regarding variables related to COVID-19 pandemic, lifestyle changes and scales validated for the assessment of depression, anxiety, and apathy. Results: The sample included 55.6% patients with MCI and 56 people with SCD. Over 1/3 of the sample reduced their physical activity and nearly 70% reported an increase in idle time. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet decreased in almost 1/3 of respondents and over 35% reported weight gain. Social activities were abolished and 1/6 of participants also decreased productive and mental-stimulating activities. 19.8% were depressed, 9.5% anxious, and 9.5% apathetic. A significant association existed between depression and living alone or having a poor relation with cohabitants and between anxiety and SCD, cold or flu symptoms, and reduction in productive leisure activities. Conclusions: Seniors with SCD and MCI underwent lifestyle changes that are potentially harmful to their future cognitive decline, even if, with the exception of leisure activities, they do not appear to be cross-sectionally associated with psychiatric symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number578628
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Oct 14 2020


  • anxiety
  • apathy
  • COVID-19
  • depression
  • lifestyle changes
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • quarantine
  • subjective cognitive decline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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