Centenarian Death Rates on Downward Trend

The National Center for Health Statistics released a report earlier this year entitled “Mortality Among Centenarians in the United States, 2000-2014.” After rising between the years 2000 and 2008, the death rate (number of deaths per 100) among Americans aged 100 and older saw a decline from 2008-2014. Still, the number of centenarian deaths in 2014 is 41 percent higher than was seen in 2000, which tracks closely with the 43.6 percent increase in the number of centenarians in the same time period.

This overall increase was reflected in a rise in the death rates attributed to 4 of the 10 leading causes of death: Alzheimer’s disease (119 percent), hypertension (88 percent), chronic lower respiratory diseases (34 percent) and unintentional injuries (33 percent).

Three of the top causes of death actually saw a decrease: influenza and pneumonia (48 percent), stroke (31 percent) and heart disease (24 percent). Interestingly, this declining rate does not seem to be holding true for all age groups as the CDC recently reported the first rise in American death rates in a decade across the board.

The general trends reflected by the 100+ population seem to reflect the overall trend in increased longevity among the 65+ population due to healthier lifestyles, medical advances and decreased level of poverty among seniors over the past 75 years. Astute gift planners will no doubt make subtle adjustments to their stewardship programs to maintain contacts with older donors and planned gift expectancies for several decades of this third stage of life. Recognition of longevity of giving, cumulative lifetime giving and number of gifts, in addition to recency of giving and gift amounts, will provide additional metrics to assist in this regard. ■

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