National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Deaths from Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Deaths from Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Main Points

  • There were 6,549 deaths where dementia or Alzheimer’s disease was the underlying cause in 2017, representing an 18 per cent increase on the previous year and more than three times the number of deaths in 2000 (although please note that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease deaths are affected by a change in cause of death coding software at the beginning of 2017 –  refer to the definition of the statistics page for more information on this.
  • As the population ages over time, it is not surprising that the number of deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease would increase.  The age-standardised  death rate shows what might have happened to the trend in the number of deaths if the population structure had remained the same over time (i.e. removing the impact of ageing).  The number of deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has increased at a greater rate than the age-standardised death rate over the period 2000 to 2017 (225% compared with 142%).  Even after accounting for the ageing population, there has still been a substantial increase in the rate of deaths over recent years (chart 1).
  • There were twice the number of female deaths (4,384) than male deaths (2,165) in 2017 but the gap is narrowing in percentage terms as female deaths were almost three times the number of male deaths in 2000 (table 1).
  • The vast majority of dementia and Alzheimer’s deaths occur over the age of 80 (table 2) with the average age at death in 2017 being 86.9.  The average age at death is slightly higher for women (87.8) than for men (85.1). 
  • The 90+ age group has the largest number of dementia and Alzheimer’s deaths (2,302 deaths, which equates to 55.2 deaths per 1,000 population) followed by the 85-89 age group (1,946 deaths, representing 24.3 deaths per 1,000 population) and the 80-84 age group (1,286 deaths, 9.3 deaths per 1,000 population). 
  • Table 3 and 4 give figures for each council and Health Board area.  Figures for smaller areas can fluctuate from year to year, so care should be taken in interpreting and comparing these figures.  More information on fluctuations in death statistics is available on our website. 

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