Howard Fillit, MD: The Impact of COVID-19 in Alzheimer Disease


The founding executive director and chief science officer at the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation discussed the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the care of patients with Alzheimer disease and dementias.

“It’s hard enough to be sheltered at home with someone who’s your spouse—imagine being sheltered at home with your spouse who has dementia…I just can’t imagine the stress that caregivers are experiencing right now.”

With a number of cities and states still relying on shelter-in-place orders due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there has been widespread concern from physicians for the individuals who are at high risk for infection. One of those groups is the elderly, who make up the majority of the Alzheimer disease and related dementias population.

For geriatricians and specialists who see these patients, like Howard Fillit, MD, founding executive director and chief science officer at the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, this has been an exceptionally challenging time. Like many others, Fillit has moved his practice to a telemedicine model, and while he told NeurologyLive that he is thankful for the benefits of being able to continue to see these patients without them needing to travel, he remains concerned.

In this interview, Fillit detailed his empathy for the other half of the dementia dyad: the caregiver. A large number of these patients with Alzheimer are taken care of by family members and spouses, and due to the pandemic, many are currently stuck at home with high levels of stress. Fillit shared his advice for his peers on how to best handle this stress and help caregivers continue to provide that care.

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