However, while the population is ageing, there has also been a marked increase in the number of people dying with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as an underlying cause.
The Jersey Alzheimer’s Association says that trend is further evidence of the need for a dedicated government strategy for dealing with the disease, which it predicts is going to affect more Islanders in future. Full story: Page 6.
The release of the figures comes a week after the charity said the number of people seeking its support had risen by over 200% since 2012.
According to the Mortality Report for 2018 published by Statistics Jersey, the average age of the 820 people who died in Jersey last year was 78.
Women are statistically likely to live longer, with the 2018 average age of the 400 females who died being 81. Of the 420 men who died during the year, the average age was 75.
For women that is an increase of nine years between 1960 and 2018, while men are now living 13 years longer.
Cancer remained the leading cause of death in Jersey last year, accounting for 30% of all deaths. According to the Health Department, lung cancer is the largest single category of cancer deaths.
It was the leading cause of death for those aged 40-64, accounting for 67% of deaths while 55% of people who passed away aged between 65 and 74 died as a result of cancer.
Circulatory diseases accounted for 26% of deaths, diseases of the respiratory system 10% and diseases of the nervous system and digestive system 5% each.
Mental and behavioural disorders were recorded as the cause of death in 11% of cases – up from 3% in 2009.
The figures also reveal an increase in deaths due to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which has previously been described as a ‘ticking time bomb’ for which Jersey must prepare. Deaths caused by the disease were up from 3% in 2009 to 12% in 2018.
Dr Susan Turnbull, medical officer of health, said the increase in deaths with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as an underlying cause could in part be down to the increased profile and public concern and less stigma associated with diagnosis.
She added: ‘ I am told that there have also been some changes in how the Office of National Statistics (which codes our deaths for us, so that our statistics are comparable to those from the UK) categorises deaths in this group of causes, which may have resulted in better recognition of deaths in which dementia has played a part.’
Dr Turnbull also said it was encouraging to see successful public health approaches, coupled with increasingly effective medical treatment, enabling Jersey people to live longer lives. But she added that such a trend came with its own challenges.
‘In 1960 the average age at death for men in Jersey was 62, and for women it was 72,’ she said. ‘Fast-forward to this 2018 analysis, and we can see that the average age of death among men has risen to 75, and of women to 81 years. This “success story” also presents a problem in another way.
‘We refer to an ageing demographic, where there is a higher proportion in our population of people in the older age groups. This means there is consequently a higher incidence of all the medical conditions that are commoner in older age and, in turn, an ever-increasing need for medical and surgical treatment.
‘This causes pressure on health services’ delivery capacity. It is very important information to factor into the planning of future health services – and an imperative that we need to keep up strenuous efforts to prevent the preventable. I am delighted that the latter has been recognised in the Government of Jersey’s Common Strategic Policy and in the draft Government Plan.’
* Fewer than five children under one and fewer than five aged one to 15 died during the year
* 130 people of working age (16-64) died – accounting for a sixth of all deaths. Two thirds of those were men.
* 260 people under the age of 75 (categorised as premature deaths) died in 2018
* Around 3,550 years of life were lost – three-fifths due to male premature death
* 560 over-75s died during the year – higher than a decade earlier
* 320 people aged 85 and over died in 2018. 59% of those deaths were females, as there are more women in this age group
* Crude mortality rate was 7.7 deaths per 1,000 population
* Age standardised mortality rate was 880 per 100,000 population, significantly lower than the figure for England