(Science Daily) — Nearly half of all older adults now die with a diagnosis of dementia listed on their medical record, up 36% from two decades ago, a new study shows. But that sharp rise may have more to do with better public awareness, more detailed medical records and Medicare billing practices than an actual rise in the condition, the researchers say.
Even so, they note, this offers a chance for more older adults to talk in advance with their families and health care providers about the kind of care they want at the end of life if they do develop Alzheimer’s disease or another form of cognitive decline.
The study, published in JAMA Health Forum by a University of Michigan team, uses data from 3.5 million people over the age of 67 who died between 2004 and 2017. It focuses on the bills their providers submitted to the traditional Medicare system in the last two years of the patients’ lives. (…)