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The Effect of COVID-19 Quarantine on Body Weight in Residents of Assisted-Living Facilities

Assisted living facility (ALF) residents are greater risk of declining health and death from the COVID-19 pandemic due to advanced age, frailty, and underlying chronic conditions. ALF residents can suffer from the consequences of the methods employed to reduce disease transmission in these facilities, including mandatory room quarantine. Room quarantine can lead to loneliness, decline in appetite, less feeding assistance, and potentially harmful changes in weight. During the quarantine period, our clinic received greater than usual reports of unintentional weight loss, in some cases up to 10%, in our patients living in multiple assisted living facilities (ALFs). A weight loss of 5% of body weight in one month or 10% over a period of six months is considered problematic in older adults.

We proposed a quality improvement project to reduce the risk of weight changes during quarantine. We conducted a retrospective chart review of 53 house call patients from 18 area assisted living facilities over a 6-month period and found that greater than 44% of the 53 residents in the study had 5% or more weight loss 5 to 6 months after quarantine began and 19% lost 10% or more.

Besides descriptive statistics, a paired sample T-test comparing before and after COVID-19 quarantine weights was significant at