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Wisconsin Sees Nearly 14% Rise in Alzheimer’s & Dementia Deaths During Pandemic


Deaths from Alzheimer’s disease are on the rise.

The Alzheimer’s Association combed through CDC data since the beginning of the year.

Alzheimer’s and dementia deaths are up 13.9% in Wisconsin as compared to last year.

Across the US, that’s more than 34,000 deaths on top of the 122,000 dementia-related deaths we usually see.

“These numbers, as horrific and bad as they are, are only through October thus far. We’re expecting another unfortunate spike,” said Alzheimer’s Association Wisconsin Chapter’s Director of Public Policy Michael Bruhn.

He says the increased deaths are a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To be clear, these people aren’t dying from COVID but as a result of the changes caused by the pandemic and the stress on our health care system.

“It’s due to many factors. It could be the difficulty in getting access to a physician, or healthcare during the pandemic,” said Bruhn. “It could be the increased difficulty in managing those comorbid conditions, and really individuals who have Alzheimer’s or dementia really rely upon a steady routine and if anything that we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, daily routines significantly impacted for everyone including those individuals who have Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

To combat this rise in deaths, the Alzheimer’s Association is urging the state to prioritize rapid testing resources to long-term care facilities.

“Our argument is that these long-term care facilities that have experienced the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic should be prioritized in not only receiving the testing and the tests, but also in the funding available for staff to be able to run these tests and run them on site,” said Bruhn.

With more rapid testing, people living in these facilities could receive visitors that would cut down on the social isolation that Bruhn says is also a contributing factor in the deaths.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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