Patterns in deaths due to COVID-19 by geographic and socioeconomic areas
Figure 9 shows the proportion of people who died due to COVID-19 in the first 10 months of 2020 by whether or not they also had dementia recorded on their death certificate, as well as by geographic and socioeconomic areas. Similar patterns were observed regardless of whether they died with or without dementia.
Of the 257 people who died due to COVID-19 with dementia:
95% lived in Victoria and 5% lived in NSW
99% lived in Major cities
37% lived in the lowest socioeconomic area (Quintile 1).
As most deaths due to COVID-19 occurred during wave 2 in Victoria over a small number of areas, differences by socioeconomic status likely reflect the localised nature of the outbreaks in Victoria and should be interpreted with this in mind.
Figure 9: Percent of COVID-19 deaths by states/territories, remoteness and socioeconomic areas, for deaths with and without dementia as an associated cause of death.
This bar graph shows breakdowns for states, remoteness and socioeconomic areas, for people who died due to COVID-19, by whether or not they died with dementia. The large majority of people who died due to COVID-19 lived in Victoria and Major cities, but people with dementia were slightly more likely than those without dementia to live in Victoria in Major Cities.
People who died due to COVID-19 in Greater Melbourne by whether or not they also had dementia
In Australia, most deaths due to COVID-19 occurred in Greater Melbourne during wave 2 of the pandemic and most of these were due to outbreaks in residential aged care homes (see the ABS report Measuring excess mortality in Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic for more information on the impact of COVID-19 on mortality in Victoria).
The Victorian Department of Health & Human Services has reported 648 deaths across 61 residential aged care homes in data from Victoria's Public Health Event Surveillance System for this period (Department of Health 2020). Although in Australia there is uncertainty around the number of people with dementia living in the community, residential aged care data indicate that over half of people living in permanent residential aged care homes have dementia recorded as a condition that affects their care needs (AIHW 2020a).
It isn’t currently possible to use provisional mortality data to determine whether people with dementia who died due to COVID-19 lived in residential aged care homes, but there is a relationship between the geographic areas where fatal residential aged care outbreaks occurred (based on data published by the Department of Health), and the geographic areas of the usual place of residency of older people with dementia who died due to COVID-19 (based on provisional mortality data). For example, ‘West Melbourne’, where 205 or 32% of all COVID-19 deaths in Victorian residential aged care homes occurred (based on Department of Health published figures), was also the usual place of residence of the highest proportion of deaths among people aged 75 and over who died due to COVID-19 (26% among people with a record of dementia on their death certificate, and 32% among those without a record of dementia on their death certificate; based on provisional mortality data) (Figure 10).
It is also worth noting that during this period, among people who did not die due to COVID-19 but who had a record of dementia on their death certificate, the location of their usual place of residence was evenly distributed across the areas covering Greater Melbourne (Figure 10; based on provisional mortality data).
Together, these preliminary results suggest that COVID-19 deaths from outbreaks in residential aged care homes involved many people with dementia.
Figure 10: Dementia and COVID-19 deaths in Greater Melbourne among people aged 75 and over, during the first 10 months of 2020.
This map shows dementia and COVID-19 deaths across the nine different SA4 areas that make up the Greater Melbourne region. It shows that COVID-19 deaths (with and without dementia) were more common in some SA4 areas than others, while dementia deaths not due to COVID-19 were more evenly spread out across all SA4 areas.