By Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. deaths from Alzheimer’s disease rose by more than 50 percent from 1999 to 2014, and rates are expected to continue to rise, reflecting the nation’s aging population and increasing life expectancy, American researchers said on Thursday.
In addition, a larger proportion of people with Alzheimer’s are dying at home rather than a medical facility, according to the report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 3.6 percent of all deaths in 2014, the report said.
Researchers have long predicted increased cases of Alzheimer’s as more of the nation’s baby boom generation passes the age of 65, putting them at higher risk for the age-related disease. The number of U.S. residents aged 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s is expected to nearly triple to 13.8 million by 2050.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, a fatal brain disease that slowly robs its victims of the ability to think and care for themselves.
According to the report by researchers at the CDC and Georgia State University, 93,541 people died from Alzheimer’s in the United States in 2014, a 54.5 percent increase compared with 1999.
During that period, the percentage of people who died from Alzheimer’s in a medical facility fell by more than half to 6.6 percent in 2014, from 14.7 percent in 1999.
Meanwhile, the number of people with Alzheimer’s who died at home increased to 24.9 percent in 2014, from 13.9 percent in 1999, researchers reported in the CDC’s weekly report on death and disease.
The sharp increase in Alzheimer’s deaths coupled with the rising number of people with Alzheimer’s dying at home have likely added to the burden on family members and others struggling to care for their stricken family members, they said.
The report suggests these individuals would benefit from services such as respite care and case management to ease the burden of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia and affects 5.5 million adults in the United States. It is expected to affect 13.8 million U.S. adults over 65 by the year 2050.
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen)