• The impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on older adults with an intellectual disability during the first wave of the pandemic in Ireland

      McCarron, Mary; McCausland, Darren; Luus, Retha; Allen, Andrew; Sheerin, Fintan; Burke, Eilish; McGlinchey, Eimear; Flannery, Fidelma; McCallion, Philip; McCallion|0000-0001-5129-6399 (2021-08-19)
      Background: People with intellectual disability have increased risk of exposure to and adverse outcomes from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).They also face challenges to mental health and well-being from COVID-19-related social restrictions and service closures. Methods: Data from a supplemental COVID-19 survey from the Intellectual Disability Supplement to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (IDS-TILDA) (n=710) was used to assess outcomes from the first infection wave of COVID-19 among adults with intellectual disability aged 40+ years in Ireland. Data was gathered on testing, for symptoms and outcomes; procedures to manage COVID-19; and both stress/anxiety and positive experiences during the pandemic. Demographic and health-related data from the main IDS-TILDA dataset was included in analyses. Results: High rates were identified of health conditions associated with poorer COVID-19 outcomes, including overweight/obesity (66.6%, n=365), high cholesterol (38.6%, n=274) and cardiovascular disease (33.7%, n=239). Over half (53.5%, n=380) reported emotional, nervous or psychiatric disorders. Almost two-thirds (62.4%, n=443) were tested for COVID-19, with 10% (n=71) reporting symptoms and 2.5% (n=11) testing positive. There were no instances of COVID-19 related mortality. Common symptoms included fatigue, fever, and cough. Some participants (7.8%, n=55) moved from their usual home to isolate, most often (n=31) or relocate to a family home (n=11). Three-quarters (78.7%) of those who were symptomatic or who tested positive had plans to manage self-isolation and two-thirds were able to comply with guidelines. Over half (55%, n=383) reported some COVID-19 related stress/anxiety; and a similar proportion reported positive aspects during this period (58%, n=381). Conclusions: Our data suggests that people with intellectual disability avoided the worst impacts of COVID-19 during the first infection wave in Ireland. Nevertheless, participants’ health profiles suggest that this population remains at high risk for adverse infection outcomes. Repeated measures are needed to track health and well-being outcomes across multiple infection waves.