How many people die of dementia
Statistics: Dementia is now one of the most common causes of death
Dementia is also an increasingly common cause of death in Germany. The disease belongs to a group of causes of death which the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden summarizes in the annual causes of death statistics under the collective term "mental illnesses and behavioral disorders".
The increase is enormous: In 2013 statisticians counted 16.9 percent more deaths in this category than in 2012. Most recently there were 36,117 people. "In 80 percent of these deaths, dementia was the cause of death," explains Destatis specialist Torsten Schelhase. Heart and circulatory diseases are still in first place. Second most common reason: cancer.
You can die of dementia
Can you die of dementia? Absolutely, says Prof. Andreas Reif, Head of the Clinic for Psychiatry at the University Hospital Frankfurt: "Dementia is a potentially fatal disease." At an advanced stage, patients can no longer eat or drink - this leads to malnutrition and dehydration. In extreme cases, you could no longer swallow - saliva could get into the airways and damage the lungs.
In this case, the death certificate would include the direct cause of death (such as multiple organ failure) and its indirect trigger (such as pneumonia) as well as the basic disease dementia.
Patient advocates call for a "dementia agenda"
The German Foundation for Patient Protection believes that society and the health system are not sufficiently prepared for the growing number of people with dementia. "While we have a concept for cancer, when it comes to neurological diseases it is more of a muddle," criticizes Foundation Board Member Eugen Brysch. "We urgently need a" dementia agenda "that must be geared towards the quality of care for cancer patients."
Those who are mentally ill not only carry a higher risk of becoming physically ill, emphasizes Prof. Reif. The risk of suicide is also massively increased: "In 90 percent of suicides, you know that there was a previous mental disorder." According to the cause of death statistics, 10 076 people consciously ended their lives in 2013 - men almost three times as often as women.
Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease that is still incurable today. It causes nerve cells and nerve cell contacts to perish in certain areas of the brain.
Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia, from which, according to the German Alzheimer's Society, 1.5 million people across Germany suffer (as of 2014). Most of the patients are 85 years or older.
As society ages, experts assume that the number of people with dementia will rise to around three million by 2050 - unless there is a breakthrough in therapy.
Alzheimer's is not curable, but the progression of symptoms can be temporarily delayed with medication. Supervision is often necessary around the clock - an immense challenge for caring relatives.
The character of the sick person changes. Many patients no longer recognize their relatives, and some become aggressive. At an advanced stage, a patient no longer knows where he is and who he is.
There are only a few factors that can be used to reduce the risk of illness. This includes a balanced diet as well as mental, social and physical activity.
While a lot of money flows into cancer prevention, for example, suicide prevention - Reif's specialty - is completely underfunded. "The resources available do not reflect the importance of mental illness." A mentally ill person in a clinic would not even be financed 30 minutes of psychological care per week, while many times more would be spent on medication for physical illnesses.
Germans are afraid of cancer and dementia
Overall, cardiovascular diseases remained the most common cause of death in 2013 as well. Almost 40 percent of all deaths were due to it, especially among the elderly. The most common individual diagnosis here is a heart attack. The second most common cause of death is cancer. A quarter of all deaths in 2013 were due to a tumor.
Cancer and dementia - this is also what people worry most about. In line with the cause of death statistics, the health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit published a survey on Thursday for which the opinion research institute Forsa asked 5413 people. According to this, 69 percent of Germans are afraid of developing a malignant tumor; Alzheimer's or dementia were the biggest fear-makers for 49 percent of those surveyed. dpa
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