The report also shows that deaths related to Alzheimer's disease increased 68 percent from 2000 to 2010, while deaths from other major diseases, like heart disease, HIV/AIDS and stroke continued to decline.
Currently, Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the only leading cause of death without a way to prevent, cure or slow its progression.
Alzheimer's was the underlying cause of death for 83,494 people in 2010. The Alzheimer's Association 2013 Facts and Figures estimates that 450,000 people in the United States will die this year with Alzheimer's.
"One of the things we struggle with is people citing Alzheimer's as the cause of death. Even if people living with Alzheimer's disease die with pneumonia or heart disease, it is because of the Alzheimer's disease. Their organs are failing because of Alzheimer's disease," Kirksey said.
"The true number of deaths caused by Alzheimer's is likely to be somewhere between the officially reported number of those dying from and those dying with Alzheimer's," according to the release.
Dr. Todd Goldberg, who specializes in geriatric medicine at Charleston Area Medical Center, said Alzheimer's is receiving increased recognition and diagnosis, and that has led to it being listed more often as the official cause of death.
"Alzheimer's is indeed a progressive and fatal condition but not any more so now than in the past," Goldberg said. "Some of the other top five causes of death do have better treatments in recent years so there are slightly less deaths from those causes relatively speaking.
"More people are dying at home and in nursing homes and hospice due to Alzheimer's rather than in the hospital or ICU where they are more likely to be labeled as dying from heart or respiratory failure or septic shock.
"So, there are 68 percent more deaths labeled as Alzheimer's since 2000 rather than other causes, but not really more people dying or getting Alzheimer's except in proportion to the population getting larger and older."
According to the association's report, among 70-year-olds with Alzheimer's disease, 61 percent are expected to die within a decade. Among 70-year-olds without Alzheimer's, only 30 percent will die within a decade.
Alzheimer's also places a burden on the caregivers. In 2012, more than 15 million caregivers provided more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $216 billion.
In West Virginia, that translates to 108,000 caregivers providing 123 million hours of unpaid care valued at $1.52 billion, according to the report.
"It's running rampant. It's everywhere," said Letha Goode, the South Charleston woman who is caring for her husband.
"So many people have it, and it's very sad. After two and a half years, I'm getting to the point where I can talk about it without crying. I'm usually in tears every time. I want to do everything I can.
"I have two sons, and I'm worried to death about them because it's an inherited disease. My husband's father was diagnosed around the same time as him — 62. I want them to find a cure. I know it won't be in time to help my husband, but hopefully it can help them by that time. And you all."
To find an Alzheimer's support group near you, visit http://www.alz.org/wv/in_my_community_support.asp.