Alzheimer’s disease patients are increasingly dying at home as opposed to in a hospital, senior living community or skilled nursing facility.
That’s according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on deaths from Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s, a fatal form of dementia, is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and made up 3.6% of all deaths in 2014.
Nearly one quarter (24.9%) of all Alzheimer’s deaths between 1999 and 2014 occurred at home, the report found. For reference, just 13.9% of all Alzheimer’s deaths occurred at home in 1999.
Though the researchers didn’t study why more Alzheimer’s patients are dying at home, the answer could lie in the fact that modern health trends have allowed those patients to age in place longer.
Despite the increase, most Alzheimer’s deaths still happened in skilled nursing facilities, hospitals and other medical facilities.
The number of Alzheimer’s deaths that occurred in a skilled nursing facility or long-term care facility fell from 67.5% in 1999 to 54.1% in 2014. Likewise, the percentage of Alzheimer’s patients who died in a hospital dropped from 14.7% in 1999 to just 6.6% in 2014, researchers noted.
More people are dying of the disease now than in 1999, the CDC also found.
Just over 93,500 Alzheimer’s deaths occurred in the United States in 2014, which represents an age-adjusted rate of 25.4 deaths per 100,000 people. That’s a 54.5% increase over the 1999 rate of 16.5 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the report.
And just because more people are dying of Alzheimer’s doesn’t necessarily mean the disease, which has no cure, is getting more prevalent, according to Dr. Chris Taylor, an epidemiologist at the CDC who co-authored the report. Competing causes of death, such as cardiovascular disease and stroke, have declined in recent years, meaning people who might have died at an earlier age years ago now live long enough to develop the disease.
“When we have a large population of adults living to older ages, the risk of Alzheimer’s increases,” Taylor told Senior Housing News.
Written by Tim Regan