A third of people ignore dementia symptoms for over a month

A third of people noticing dementia symptoms in themselves or loved ones don’t flag up the issue for over a month, new research suggests. A survey undertaken by the Alzheimer’s Society found just 15 per cent of those who are worried seek help immediately.

This is despite the fact that an early diagnosis represents the best opportunity to slow the progress of the condition. With no cure currently available, treatment options are centred around preventing further deterioration.

Some 1,137 adults were involved in the research, including individuals with a dementia diagnosis, carers for someone with the condition and people with worries that a loved one could be displaying symptoms.

Probing further into the reasons for staying silent, the most commonly cited explanation was believing the symptoms were just a result of getting older. A further 44 per cent of participants said they worried they or their loved one would be talked down to if diagnosed with dementia.

Kate Lee, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: “We can't continue to avoid the 'D-word' – we need to face dementia head on. This Dementia Action Week we want everyone to know there is support out there if you're confused about symptoms, or don't know how to have that first tricky conversation.”

The Alzheimer’s Society has responded to the findings of the survey by launching a new campaign with the tagline “It's not called getting old, it's called getting ill”. It aims to encourage those worried about their own memory or that of a loved one to get a diagnosis.

A first step towards doing this could be consulting the charity’s online symptoms checklist. Despite someone developing dementia every three minutes in the UK, diagnosis rates plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic.

They hit a five-year low during lockdown and have not recovered since, leading to a large number of people living with undiagnosed dementia. Not only can those without a clear determination on the disease not receive treatment, but they also lack the support to cope with the challenges of the condition.

Ms Lee added: “At the Alzheimer's Society we're dedicated to providing help and hope to everyone affected by dementia – nine in ten people told us they benefited from getting a diagnosis, helping them access the treatments, support and advice a diagnosis unlocks.”

Photo credit: Unsplash/krakenimages

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