Why Is There a Measured Increase in Dementia?

Rise in dementia cases
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Dementia is a common ailment in seniors.

When people develop dementia, it impacts all areas of their lives.

Forgetfulness can quickly threaten finances and physical health as bills are left unpaid or medications are left untaken.

Additionally, relationships can suffer due to losing memories of important people.

According to a recent Money Talks News article titled “Half of Older Adults Die with This Disease,” there has been a notable increase in the number of seniors diagnosed with dementia.

The rise of dementia cases could be attributed to a number of factors.
The prevalence of dementia has increased in the United States.

This statistic was taken from a review of Medicare bills from the final two years of life of about 3.5 million seniors age 67 and older who died between 2004 and 2017.

Specifically, the researchers found a single mention of dementia was found in more than 47 percent of these claims in 2017, while 39 percent of bills had claims with at least two mentions of dementia in the same year.

In 2004, the single instance prevalence was 25 percent while two mentions were noted in 25 percent of the medical records.

Does this mean the number of people with dementia has increased?

Not necessarily.

Other factors could account for at least a portion of the rise in cases.

These include changes to Medicare billing practices, greater public attention to dementia, and more detailed medical records.

Medicare billing specifically accounts for a rise because researchers found a connection to the increase in cases and to Medicare allowing for additional diagnoses to be listed by medical services providers in payment requests.

Follow the money?

In addition to the trend toward a greater number of diagnoses, the researchers also found changes in treatment and end-of-life care.

Fewer seniors with dementia die in ICU or regular hospital beds.

Feeding tubes are utilized less in the final six months of life for dementia patients.

More patients are receiving hospice care than previously.

Many of these changes may be related to the increased awareness of and planning for dementia.

Regardless whether dementia or Alzheimer’s runs in your family, you should work with an experienced estate planning attorney to prepare incapacity planning documents and discuss your wishes with your physicians and your loved ones.

Reference: Money Talks News (April 13, 2022) “Half of Older Adults Die with This Disease”

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