"A tidal wave of Alzheimer's disease" is now upon us and "it's not going away unless we do something serious about it," a rep for the Alzheimer's Association tells CBS News. That after a CDC report notes that the rate of deaths from Alzheimer's disease jumped 55% in 15 years. In 1999, Alzheimer’s was linked to some 44,500 deaths, or 16.5 deaths per 100,000 people. By 2014, those figures had jumped to 93,500 deaths and a rate of 25.4 per 100,000 people, reports ABC News. The CDC researchers used data from death certificates in the study, with NBC News noting that a number of factors are probably at play, including better diagnosis and an increased willingness of doctors to list it as the cause of death. But perhaps most importantly, people are living longer.
"Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease," so the alarming rate of deaths will only continue with an aging population, a researcher explains. While finding a cure for Alzheimer's is still a priority, researchers say attention must also be given to patient care. The CDC report notes a quarter of deaths from Alzheimer's in 2014 occurred at home, up from 14% in 1999, suggesting many patients and their families can't afford professional care. "Nearly everyone in the final stages of Alzheimer's needs constant care," which can be emotionally and physically draining for a healthy person, say researchers. But "patients' spouses are often elderly, too, and have ailments of their own," a doctor adds.