Many older adults who’ve become critically ill from the COVID-19 coronavirus describe experiencing “brain fog” – or difficulty stringing together thoughts, problems concentrating and issues with short-term memory – after battling the disease.
Marilyn Walters, 65, has battled what she calls “brain fog,” as have other older people who were previously critically ill with COVID-19.
Walters, who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, told the outlet, “I still get tired real easy, and I can’t breathe sometimes. If I’m walking, sometimes my legs get wobbly, and my arms get like jelly.”
According to Dr. Zijian Chen, medical director of the Center for Post-COVID Care at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, “many older patients are having trouble organizing themselves and planning what they need to do to get through the day.”
“They’re reporting that they’ve become more and more forgetful,” he added.
According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most seniors who contract COVID-19 will survive it, and so they will likely have to deal with those issues to varying degrees. Among the age group at greatest risk, people 85 and older, 28% of those with confirmed cases end up dying. Since there are gaps in testing, the actual death rate may be lower, notes Kaiser Health News.
“What we’re seeing with COVID-19 and older adults are rates of delirium in the 70% to 80% range,” said Dr. Babar Khan, associate director of Indiana University’s Center for Aging Research at the Regenstrief Institute, as well as one of Walters’ physicians.
Another COVID-19 survivor, 77-year-old Chicago documentary filmmaker Gordon Quinn, related his coronavirus experience to Kaiser Health News.
Given the extent of delirium and mounting evidence of neurological damage from COVID-19, Khan said he expects to see “an increased prevalence of ICU-acquired cognitive impairment in older COVID patients.”