A Place for Mom
Assisted Living
Memory Care
Independent Living
Senior Living
Sign in
A closeup of a caregiver's hands holding a senior's hands in support

How Many People Die of Alzheimer’s? Dementia May Be More Deadly Than You Think

8 minute readLast updated December 6, 2022
Written by Claire Samuels

The CDC began tracking Alzheimer’s disease as a primary cause of death in 1999. Since then, the number of dementia deaths in the U.S. has skyrocketed, with annual mortality numbers more than doubling between 2000 and 2020. What caused this dramatic increase, and which demographic populations does it affect most? Read on for statistics on gender, race, comorbidities, and more.

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

Take our free care quiz

According to our research team’s analysis:

  • 134,242 people died from Alzheimer’s disease in 2020, the most recent year of data available.
  • Alzheimer’s is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States for people over 65.
  • Since 2000, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 133%.
  • Women are 39.6% more likely to die from Alzheimer’s than men are.
  • Almost 6.2 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s.

Read on to learn about historical changes in mortalities from Alzheimer’s disease, along with breakdowns by various demographics.

How many people die of Alzheimer’s?

People often ask if you can die from Dementia, well in 2020, more than 134,000 people died of Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That number demonstrates a shocking increase in dementia deaths since the disease started being tracked as a primary cause of death in 1999.

Alzheimer’s deaths are on the rise

Alzheimer’s deaths increased by over 146% between 2000 and 2018, according to the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia. This doesn’t match other death trends: Over that same time period, deaths resulting from other chronic conditions and diseases — like stroke, HIV, and heart disease — decreased.

Not only has the number of Alzheimer’s deaths increased generally, but the rate of increase has also grown. Between 2000 and 2006, the number of deaths attributed to this type of dementia increased by 47%. In the six-year period between 2012 and 2018, these deaths increased by nearly 60%.

Alzheimer’s deaths per 100,000

The death toll from Alzheimer’s disease isn’t directly correlated with population growth, as evidenced by trends per 100,000 Americans.

In 2000, 17.6 out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. died of Alzheimer’s. In 2020, that number had risen to 40.7.

However, since dementia mostly affects older people, age-adjusted data offers a clearer picture of the impact Alzheimer’s disease has on the 65+ population. The age-adjusted death rate for Alzheimer’s disease increased from 128.8 per 100,000 in 1999 to 233.8 in 2019, according to the CDC Wonder Database’s Underlying Cause of Death Report.

As the population ages, the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease continues to increase. About 57 million people globally are currently living with Alzheimer’s, according to data 2022 published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. They expect that number to rise to 153 million by 2050.

Unless a cure is discovered, the number of Alzheimer’s deaths will likely skyrocket alongside diagnoses.

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

Alzheimer’s disease as a leading cause of death

Alzheimer’s disease has been a prominent cause of death for decades.

  • Alzheimer’s disease was the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. from 1999-2020, according to the CDC.
  • COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in 2021, pushing Alzheimer’s to seventh, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Alzheimer’s is the fifth leading cause of death in people over 65, and it’s the fourth leading cause of death in people over 85.

It’s worth noting that statistics have been significantly skewed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In older populations especially, the rank of Alzheimer’s deaths dropped in 2020 and 2021, though death numbers themselves continued their upward trend.

For example, Alzheimer’s disease was the third leading cause of death in people over 85 in 2019; since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been fourth.

Other leading causes of death among elderly populations include:

  • Diseases of the heart
  • Malignant neoplasms
  • Cerebrovascular diseases
  • Accidents and falls

Alzheimer’s mortality rate by demographic

Age, race, and gender all affect Alzheimer’s death statistics. Women, older populations, and people of Caucasian descent are more likely than people in other demographics to die of dementia.

Alzheimer’s deaths by age

The older someone is, the more likely they are to die of Alzheimer’s disease. This is because dementia primarily affects older adults and becomes more common with age.

  • Across all age groups, 40.7 people out of every 100,000 die of Alzheimer’s.
  • Alzheimer’s is not a top-10 cause of death in people under 55.
  • In people ages 65-74, the rate is 28.6 per 100,000.
  • In people ages 75-84, that number increases dramatically to 229.3.
  • People over 85 are the most likely to die of Alzheimer’s, at 1,287.3 per 100,000.

Alzheimer’s deaths by sex

Women are far more likely than men to die of Alzheimer’s disease. This is partially because women have a longer life expectancy — 80.5 years compared to 75.1 years — and dementia as a cause of death is more common in older age groups.

As a whole, women are 39.6% more likely than men to die of Alzheimer’s:

  • 7.5% of women aged 65 and older die of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • 3.7% of men aged 65 and older die of Alzheimer’s disease.

Impact of race on Alzheimer’s deaths

As a whole, non-Hispanic white people in the U.S are most likely to die of Alzheimer’s disease. However, in population groups over the age of 85, Hispanic and Asian American people are most likely to die of this type of dementia.

  • 4.6% of non-Hispanic white people in the U.S. die of Alzheimer’s disease. 8.5% of non-Hispanic white people over the age of 85 die of Alzheimer’s.
  • 4.1% of Asian American people in the U.S. die of Alzheimer’s disease. 9.1% of Asian American people over the age of 85 die of Alzheimer’s.
  • 3.9% of Hispanic people in the U.S die of Alzheimer’s disease. 10.9% of Hispanic people over the age of 85 die of Alzheimer’s.
  • 2.7% of non-Hispanic Black people in the U.S. die of Alzheimer’s disease. 4.2% of non-Hispanic Black people over the age of 85 die of Alzheimer’s.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is not a top-10 cause of death among Native American and Alaskan Native populations.

How people die of Alzheimer’s

One of several types of dementia, Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, meaning it gets worse over time. A person with early- to middle-stage Alzheimer’s may forget where they placed things, repeat words and phrases, or wander. Eventually, late-stage or severe Alzheimer’s can lead to death.

This is because the brain tissue of a person with Alzheimer’s shrinks significantly over time, which causes their body to begin to shut down. The person’s muscles weaken and atrophy, and their internal organs become unable to perform necessary functions.

People with severe Alzheimer’s become completely dependent on caregivers to perform activities of daily living. They may be unable to communicate, feed themselves independently, or even swallow without assistance.

Talk with a Senior Living Advisor

Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.

Life expectancy of people with Alzheimer’s

Level of cognitive decline is the primary factor in determining how long a patient with Alzheimer’s disease will live, according to a 2021 study from UT Southwestern.

While some people can live up to 20 years after a dementia diagnosis, the average life expectancy is three to 12 years, according to the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

  • Patients who are older, who have more limited mobility, and who have more significant cognitive decline have shorter life expectancies.
  • Seniors who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by age 70 are twice as likely to die before 80 as those who don’t have dementia.
  • People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by age 65 have a median survival time of 8.3 years; those who are diagnosed at age 90 have approximately 3.4 years, according to Johns Hopkins.

Alzheimer’s as a contributing factor to death

A third of all seniors die with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, according to The Chicago Health and Aging Project — but that doesn’t mean a third of all seniors die of Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s important to note that this study included not just Alzheimer’s patients, but also those experiencing Lewy Body and vascular dementias, as well as other dementias and cognitive impairments.

This is partially because Alzheimer’s disease becomes more common as people age. Many seniors who die after the age of 85 have been diagnosed with some form of cognitive impairment, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Many people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s never progress to severe or late-stage Alzheimer’s, which is why it isn’t an official cause of death.

The CDC Wonder Database tracks multiple-cause-of-death data in addition to primary-cause-of-death data. The most common primary causes of death, with Alzheimer’s listed as a secondary condition, are:

  • Diabetes
  • Diseases of the heart
  • Pneumonia and other respiratory infections
  • Malignant neoplasms

Alzheimer’s disease may complicate other conditions for a variety of reasons:

  • Someone may forget to attend medical appointments due to cognitive decline, exacerbating comorbidities.
  • A senior may suffer from malnutrition if they’re unable to eat independently.
  • Bed sores and infections can lead to sepsis.
  • Diabetes can become fatal if the person with the disease goes without proper insulin management.


Meet the Author
Claire Samuels

Claire Samuels is a former senior copywriter at A Place for Mom, where she helped guide families through the dementia and memory care journey. Before transitioning to writing, she gained industry insight as an account executive for senior living communities across the Midwest. She holds a degree from Davidson College.

Edited by

Haines Eason

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

Make the best senior care decision