Number of people dying from dementia and Alzheimer's at home up 79% during Covid

  • Video report by ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan


The number of people dying from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in private homes in England has risen 79% during the months of the Covid pandemic, new figures show.

There were 2,095 excess deaths from these conditions registered between March 14 and September 11 - including the months of strictest coronavirus lockdown.

It's part of a wider trend, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showing the number of deaths in private homes is "well above the five-year average".

Many families have not seen their loved ones in months due to bans on care home visits. Credit: PA

The figure was starker still in Wales.

There was a 94% rise in the number of people dying from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in private homes in Wales - with 133 excess deaths during the same period.

Overall the latest ONS figures show there were 24,387 excess deaths in private homes in England and 1,644 in Wales - compared with the five-year average for the same months.

79%

Rise in deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in private homes in England

94%

Rise in deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in private homes in Wales

Despite the sharp increase in deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, the leading cause of death in private homes during Covid was ischaemic heart disease.

These deaths accounted for 53.8% of the excess deaths among males in private homes during that time period - with men and women aged between 70 and 89 accounting for the majority.

The British Heart Foundation had previously warned of a "concerning" rise in the number of under-65s dying from heart problems as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.


Tracey Bleakley, the Chief Executive of Hospice UK, tells ITV News why she thinks the number of people dying at home has gone up

Sarah Caul, head of mortality at ONS, said the latest figures showed a drop in hospital and care home deaths below the five-year average but added: "We’ve consistently seen deaths in private homes remain well above the five-year average."

She continued: "We have seen an overall increase of deaths as well as a redistribution of various causes of death. For instance, while deaths of heart disease are below average in hospital, it has been above average at home."

"It’s a similar picture when looking at prostate cancer for males and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for females.

Other causes of deaths saw a 53% increase in fatalities from prostate cancer - the biggest percentage change from the five-year average - a 46% rise in deaths from bowel cancer, and a 47% rise in deaths from breast cancer.

There were over 2,000 excess deaths from these conditions registered between March 14 and September 11 Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our deepest sympathies go to the families and loved ones of those who have died. “Throughout the pandemic the NHS has remained open for urgent care and it is vital that people continue to come forward. “The NHS treated two non-Covid patients for every one Covid patient during the first wave of the pandemic and more than 870,000 people were referred for cancer checks between March and August. “In addition to this, £3 billion in funding has been allocated to the NHS to prepare for winter, which includes ensuring Nightingale hospital surge capacity as well as upgrading A&E facilities.”