Re­port: More Amer­i­cans with Alzheimer’s are dy­ing at home

Cape Breton Post - - Religion/advice/games - BY MIKE STOBBE

One in 4 Alzheimer’s deaths in the United States are now oc­cur­ring at home - a star­tling in­crease that marks a shift away from hospi­tals and nurs­ing homes, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased Thurs­day.

Alzheimer’s deaths in hospi­tals and nurs­ing homes or other long-term care fa­cil­i­ties shrank from more than 80 per cent to 60 per cent over 15 years. Mean­while, those dy­ing at home rose from 14 per cent to 25 per cent, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion found.

Alzheimer’s dis­ease is a pro­gres­sive brain dis­or­der that im­pairs mem­ory, judg­ment and other men­tal abil­i­ties. It’s most com­mon in the el­derly. In the fi­nal stages of the dis­ease, peo­ple have trou­ble eat­ing and car­ry­ing on a con­ver­sa­tion, are vul­ner­a­ble to pneu­mo­nia and in­fec­tions, and of­ten need around-the-clock care.

The Alzheimer’s death rate has risen nearly 80 per cent since 1999 and the dis­ease is the na­tion’s sixth lead­ing cause of death.

Deaths have been climb­ing for some time. A big rea­son is de­clines in other causes of death - par­tic­u­larly heart dis­ease and can­cer - are en­abling more peo­ple to live long enough to die from Alzheimer’s, ex­perts say.

In the new re­port, the CDC an­a­lyzed death cer­tifi­cates from 1999 to 2014 and found a sur­prise - a shift in where peo­ple with Alzheimer’s are dy­ing.

One pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion is pa­tient pref­er­ence. For peo­ple los­ing their mem­o­ries, it can be a com­fort to re­main in fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings, said Jeff Hu­ber, pres­i­dent of Home In­stead Se­nior Care, an Omaha-based com­pany that pro­vides home care to tens of thou­sands of clients with Alzheimer’s and de­men­tia.

But it can be dif­fi­cult for fam­i­lies. Even if they have the in­sur­ance or money to get home-care work­ers to help, car­ing for an Alzheimer’s pa­tient can take an ex­haust­ing toll, ex­perts said.

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