Deaths from dementia in Northern Ireland hit new high
Published 21/05/2013 | 14:54
The number of deaths from dementia in Northern Ireland hit a new high of 1,400 last year, it was revealed.
People are living longer - to 76 on average - but more are suffering slow decline from conditions like Alzheimer's disease, official statistics showed.
The overall death rate today is 40% lower than in the early 1980s.
Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency senior statistician David Marshall said: "This improvement has led to an ageing population. One consequence of this is that we are now seeing more deaths due to Alzheimer disease and other forms of dementia."
Bernadine McCrory, operations director for the Alzheimer's Society in Northern Ireland, said the figures showed more medical professionals and families were recognising dementia as a cause of death.
"This shows greater awareness of the condition and indeed a possible reduction in the stigma that was previously attached to it," she added.
"We know that one on three of us over the age of 65 will get dementia and as the population lives longer it is inevitable that we will see dementia listed as a cause of death."
Last year there were 14,800 victims of all causes, a 4% increase on 2011, but there was the lowest ever infant death rate (3.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births). Today less than 1% of pregnancies result in an infant death or stillbirth, Mr Marshall added.
The average age at death has increased over the last 30 years from 70.1 years in 1982 to 76.4 years in 2012.
Other key findings included:
:: Cancer (4,100), circulatory disease (4,000) and respiratory disease (2,000) continue to be the main causes. Together they account for 70% of all cases.
:: There were 100 deaths of centenarians; the oldest male death was 104 years and the oldest female death was 106.
The reduction in the number of deaths in recent years has occurred despite the population increasing in size and becoming older, the NISRA report said. The population is 17% larger than it was in 1982 and those aged 75 and over represent 7% of people now compared to only 5% in 1982.
Females (7,662) outnumbered males (7,094) last year, giving a ratio of 108 female victims for every 100 males. The number of female deaths has outnumbered males for each of the last 24 years.