Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and the rates of people dying from Alzheimer’s continue to grow.

In the last 15 years, deaths from Alzheimer’s rose 55%, according to the CDC.

Clinical Director of the Roskamp Clinic Dr. Andrew Keegan, says many factors could contribute to the drastic increase.

“It’s hard to say what the reason of the rise in number, is that because people are more aware of it, so people are actually putting it down on the death certificate, is there the rising baby boomers that are coming through, so I think those are some of the features that also come into play in counting that number.”

Dr. Keegan says these rising rates could draw more attention to the disease.

“People coming and talking about it raises awareness,” Dr. Keegan said. “So, that statistic being published raises awareness, so hopefully people will come in gets free memory screening, come in mention it to their doctor earlier.”

Dr. Keegan says the earlier people get tested for Alzheimer’s the more treatment options are available.

“There hasn’t been a new medication in 15 years,” Dr. Keegan said. “The goal is to come up with preventative treatment, so the more people are aware and thinking about this disease, maybe they will be more likely we can come in there and intervene at a much earlier time period.”

These Rising Rates could also have a large effect on caregivers.

“It’s more likely the caregiver can become ill,” Dr. Keegan said. “Rather than the person with Alzheimer’s, because the caregiver is the one that’s stressed about monitoring them, taking them to doctor’s appointments, if they’re getting into something or agitated they have to tend to that.”

And the earlier patients are diagnosed, the earlier family can get help for caregivers.

“We know that when people are in seeing a physician earlier for treatment,” Dr. Keegan said. “They’re plugging in with the local community services and that can be more helpful for a patient and their family to get more support.”

Family members looking for support can find information on resources for caregivers from the Roskamp Institute and the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.