A New Study Shows Almost 50% of Older People Who Die Have Been Diagnosed with Dementia

Learning that almost 50% of older people who die now have been diagnosed with dementia is not a type of good news.

But a new study shows that the National Plans to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and better Medicare billing practices have revealed truths that can help patients who have been recently diagnosed with dementia and their families to prepare for a better end-of-life care for the former.

Photo: YouTube/National Institute on Aging

The study was carried out by a team of experts from the University of Michigan, who analyzed data from 3.5 million individuals who were more than 67 years old and who passed away between 2004 and 2017. According to end-of-life billing claims in 2004, there was only a single mention of a dementia diagnosis out of approximately 35% of these claims. However, claims with dementia diagnosis rose to more than 47% in 2017.

Photo: YouTube/National Institute on Aging

According to the study authors, it was not due to a rise in the incidence rate of dementia among old people. The recorded increase was due to the success of the public awareness campaigns of the National Plans to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and the timely upgrading of Medicare billing practices. By allowing more diagnoses to be listed by doctors, hospitals, and hospices in billing claims, Medicare contributed to the establishment of real statistics concerning patients with dementia.

Due to these positive developments, more end-of-life patients with dementia diagnoses have received better care, including hospice services. And today, families and patients with recent findings of cognitive decline are given better options for living one’s final years in security and comfort.

Photo: YouTube/National Institute on Aging

“This shows we have far to go in addressing end-of-life care preferences proactively with those who are recently diagnosed, and their families,” said Julie Bynum, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study and a professor of geriatric medicine at Michigan Medicine. “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.”

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