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Dementia Diagnoses Are Rising Significantly, New Study Reveals

This number has skyrocketed over the past 20 years.

Did you know that half of older individuals are now diagnosed with dementia when they die? This number has skyrocketed over the past 20 years (It's increased 36%, according to a new study.), and you'll want to read on to learn why this percentage is so distressing. And next, check out The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.

Here's what the research involved

doctor taking notes for patient research

Alzheimer's, a kind of dementia, impacts your thinking, memory, and the way you behave. Someone affected by this disease can experience symptoms that will eventually play a major role in everyday functions and tasks.

The University of Michigan recently conducted a study regarding the staggering rise of dementia, published by JAMA Health Forum. The research involved the examination of data for 3.5 million individuals above 67 years of age who passed away during the timeframe 2004—2017. The research found the dramatic increase in recorded dementia cases as a cause of death may be the result of several factors, and not what you may think.

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There has been a significant increase in dementia noted on end-of-life claims

doctor holding a medical claims sign

The significant large percentage of recorded dementia cases may not be an actual rise in the disease itself, but rather a combination of Medicare billing practices, much more detail-oriented medical files, and improved public awareness.

Researchers observed the bills that medical providers have submitted over the past two years to Medicare for processing. Going back to 2004, approximately 35% of end-of-life claims submitted included a minimum of one notation of dementia. However, in 2017, that percentage increased to over 47%.

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There were multiple factors at play

hospital bed

Researchers focused on bills that providers submitted to Medicare during the last two years the patients were alive. The largest increase in the percentage of individuals who died with a diagnosis of dementia occurred during the time period when Medicare permitted health professionals to list more diagnoses on their reimbursement forms for payment, which they did.

In the same timeframe, the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease was initiated, thereby raising awareness of patient support and care, as well as caregiver support. This prompted improvements in Alzheimer's patient end-of-life care. There was a notable decrease in those who died in an ICU or hospital bed, as well as individuals who used a feeding tube. Hospice care jumped up to 63% from 36% as 2020 neared.

Senior author of the study and a professor of geriatric medicine at Michigan Medicine Julie Bynum, M.D., Ph.D. explains via ScienceDaily, "This shows we have far to go in addressing end-of-life care preferences proactively with those who are recently diagnosed, and their families. Where once the concern may have been underdiagnosis, now we can focus on how we use dementia diagnosis rates in everything from national budget planning to adjusting how Medicare reimburses Medicare Advantage plans."

For more…

senior man doing plank outdoors on boardwalk, sunny day

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Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa