US deaths from Alzheimer's soar 55 per cent since 1999

A woman is visited by a dementia "therapy horse", at a nursing home in the Netherlands.
A woman is visited by a dementia "therapy horse", at a nursing home in the Netherlands. PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - Deaths from Alzheimer's in America have soared 55 per cent since 1999, as the burden of this fatal form of dementia grows and the population ages, a federal health report said on Thursday (May 25).

The study in the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report spanned 1999 to 2014.

Experts say the data shows more caregivers are needed, along with more resources to help people suffering from Alzheimer's disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

"Millions of Americans and their family members are profoundly affected by Alzheimer's disease," said CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat.

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"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."

The study also found an increasing number of Alzheimer's deaths occurring at home, rising from 14 per cent to 25 per cent in the same period.

Most Alzheimer's deaths - 54 per cent - still occur in a nursing home or long-term care facility.

There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia.

Alzheimer's accounted for 3.6 per cent of all US deaths in 2014.

Alzheimer's is a growing problem as people live longer, and medical advances make them less likely to die from other diseases.

"Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease," said the CDC report.

"Most adults with the disease are 65 years or older."

More than five million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer's, and that number could balloon to 16 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association.