Predictors of loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic in people with dementia and their carers in England: findings from the DETERMIND-C19 study.
OBJECTIVES: To identify factors that predict the risk of loneliness for people with dementia and carers during a pandemic. METHODS: People with dementia and their carers completed assessments before (July 2019-March 2020; 206 dyads) and after (July-October 2020) the first Covid-19 'lockdown' in England. At follow-up, the analytic sample comprised 67 people with dementia and 108 carers. We built a longitudinal path model with loneliness as an observed outcome. Carer type and social contacts at both measurements were considered. Other social resources (quality of relationship, formal day activities), wellbeing (anxiety, psychological wellbeing) and cognitive impairment were measured with initial level and change using latent growth curves. We adjusted for socio-demographic factors and health at baseline. RESULTS: In carers, higher levels of loneliness were directly associated with non-spouse coresident carer type, level and increase of anxiety in carer, more formal day activities, and higher cognitive impairment in the person with dementia. In people with dementia, non-spouse coresident carer type, and higher initial levels of social resources, wellbeing, and cognitive impairment predicted the changes in these factors; this produced indirect effects on social contacts and loneliness. CONCLUSION: Loneliness in the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be shaped by different mechanisms for people with dementia and their carers. The results suggest that carers of those with dementia may prioritize providing care that protects the person with dementia from loneliness at the cost of experiencing loneliness themselves. Directions for the promotion of adaptive social care during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond are discussed.