The rate of deaths linked to Alzheimer’s disease escalated by 54.5 percent over the course of 15 years, according to a new report released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (also called the CDC). This is an alarmingly high increase for a disease which medicine cannot cure, and sometimes cannot even manage to treat effectively enough for the patient to be able to carry on and live a normal life.
There were roughly 93,541 deaths related to Alzheimer’s disease in 2014—which is a rate of 25.4 deaths per 100,000 members of the population. This is an increase from the 44,536 deaths reported in 1999, which was a rate of about 16.5 deaths per 100,000 people, according to this same report.
As of now, the disease impacts an estimated 5.5 million people in the US. However, this number is predicted to escalate considerably in people over the age of 65 to 13.8 million in the year 2050. The researchers analyzed death certificate data from the National Vital Statistics System to arrive at these conclusions.
Keith Fargo, who is the director of the scientific program at the Alzheimer’s Association, explained that this study emphasizes the need for support and research into therapies to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
According to an interview given by Fargo to ABC News regarding the study and its findings, “it’s the only cause of death in the top 10 that does not have a way to prevent it or stop it.”
CDC researchers did not study the reason behind the growth, but they reported that one potential factor is that a larger quantity of people are surviving to old age. The researchers found from 1999 to 2005 that the most significant increase in mortality rate related to Alzheimer’s disease was in people over the age of 85.
Fargo revealed that he was surprised to observe in the report that 24.9 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease were dying in their homes as opposed to in a medical facility.
“Before you die people become completely bed bound,” detailed Fargo. “It requires and intense level of caregiving to the end.”
Fargo opined on the matter in stating that the fact that a greater number of people were dying at home signified that people did not have the resources to get the type of help they required at long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Fargo claimed that providing that required level of care can take a considerably heavy emotional and physical toll on the people involved—meaning not only the patient but also their family, friends and loved ones. The CDC approximates that caregivers offered roughly 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care to dementia patients in 2015.
“The caregivers for Alzheimer’s disease have $9 billion more in Medicare claims of their own,” in addition to the claims of their loved ones, according to Fargo. Caregiving, especially in these situations, is “so stressful it takes a physical toll on the bodies.”
The CDC researchers emphasize the importance of the fact that rising rates of Alzheimer’s disease will likely imply that more people will need support to care and treat these patients.
“Until Alzheimer’s can be prevented, slowed, or stopped, caregiving for persons with advanced Alzheimer’s will remain a demanding task,” the authors detailed in their written report. “An increasing number of Alzheimer’s deaths coupled with an increasing number of patients dying at home suggests that there is an increasing number of caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s. It is likely that these caregivers might benefit from interventions such as education, respite care, and case management that can lessen the potential burden of caregiving.”
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