Image: A new study indicates more people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease are dying at home (Photo courtesy of CanStockPhoto).
A new report reveals that deaths from Alzheimer's disease (AD) rose by almost 50% between 1999 and 2014, and in many cases the heavy burden of caregiving has fallen on loved ones.
Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, Atlanta, GA, USA) examined U.S. state-level and county-level death certificate data from the National Vital Statistics System for the period between 1999 and 2014 in order to identify all deaths with AD reported as the underlying cause. A total of 93,541 such AD deaths occurred in the United States in 2014 at an age-adjusted rate of 25.4 deaths per 100,000, which represented a 54.5% increase compared with the 1999 rate of 16.5 deaths per 100,000.
The data revealed that most AD deaths occurred in a nursing home or long-term care facility, with the percentage of those dying in a medical facility declining from 14.7% in 1999 to 6.6% in 2014, whereas the percentage of those who died at home increasing from 13.9% in 1999 to 24.9% in 2014. The CDC suggests that the significant increases in AD, coupled with an increase in the number of persons with Alzheimer’s dying at home, have likely added to the burden placed on family members or other unpaid caregivers. The study was published on May 26, 2017, in CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“With more people dying at home, there is an increased need for caregivers, because in the late stages of Alzheimer's, patients are completely dependent on caregivers. At home, a lot of times it's done by friends and family,” said report author epidemiologist Christopher Taylor, PhD. “There is a growing number of caregivers who likely can benefit from interventions like education, respite care, and home health assistance; such interventions can lessen the burden of caregiving and can improve the care received by persons with Alzheimer’s.”
AD, named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who first described it, is caused by protein build-up in the brain that form structures called plaques and tangles. This leads to the loss of connections between nerve cells, and eventually to their death of and loss of brain tissue. As AD progresses, problems with memory loss, communication, reasoning, and orientation become increasingly severe, and sufferers need more and more day-to-day support from caregivers. AD affects almost 50% of those over the age of 85, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the US.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention