Did deaths among people with dementia differ by geographic and socioeconomic areas during the pandemic?

The lower rate of deaths with dementia recorded on death certificates in 2020 was widespread across Australia, including in regions that experienced COVID-19 outbreaks.

Figure 5 presents weekly age-standardised death rates among people who had dementia recorded on their death certificate in 2020 compared with the average age-standardised death rates over the same months in previous years (2015–19), showing differences by geographic and socioeconomic areas. Note that some age-standardised rates could not be presented due to low numbers of weekly deaths in some areas.

Examination of the age-standardised death rates due to dementia during the first 10 months of 2020 (by adding up weekly rates) shows that compared to the average death rates of the same months in previous years (2015–19), rates in 2020 were:

  • lower in Victoria and New South Wales, and similar in Queensland

  • lower in Inner regional areas, as well as in Outer regional, Remote, and Very remote areas

  • similar in Major cities and across all socioeconomic areas.

Death rates among people with dementia showed similar patterns to deaths due to dementia, with lower overall rates in 2020 for most of the states and territories, as well as in each remoteness and socioeconomic area.

The greatest difference in age-standardised death rates due to and with dementia was during wave 2 of the pandemic, when they were lower than they had been in previous years. This reduction occurred across different geographic and socioeconomic areas, even in areas that didn’t experience COVID-19 outbreaks. This again suggests that measures put in place in response to the pandemic led to reduced deaths among people with dementia.

Figure 5: Weekly age-standardised dementia death rates (ASRs) among people with a record of dementia on their death certificate (2020 versus average over 2015-19), by states/territories, remoteness and socioeconomic areas.

This line graph shows weekly age standardised dementia death rates between 1 January and 27 October, and the corresponding weekly averages over the period 2015 to 2019. It separately shows differences by state, remoteness, and socioeconomic areas. The data presented in this figure shows that the reduction in age-standardised death rates for dementia in 2020 occurred across all different geographic and socioeconomic areas.