CDC said the uptick in mortality rates among people with the disease is likely due to a combination of factors – an increasingly aging population, more accurate diagnoses, and more willingness by doctors to list Alzheimer’s as the cause of death.
The study’s findings were framed around the effect they have on family members and caregivers.
“Millions of Americans and their family members are profoundly affected by Alzheimer’s disease,” said CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat. “As the number of older Americans with Alzheimer’s disease rises, more family members are taking on the emotionally and physically challenging role of caregiver than ever before. These families need and deserve our support.”
CDC researchers found that 93,541 people who died in 2014 had Alzheimer’s listed as the cause of death. That’s a rate of 25.4 deaths per 100,000 people, a 54.5% increase compared to 16.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999, the agency said.
Most Alzheimer’s deaths occurred in a nursing home or long-term care facility setting.
“As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, caregiving becomes very important,” said Christopher Taylor, a CDC epidemiologist and lead author of the study. “Caregivers and patients can benefit from programs that include education about Alzheimer’s disease, how to take care of themselves and their loved one, and case management to lessen the burden of care.”
Alzheimer’s disease is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 3.6% of all deaths, according to the CDC.