A Government campaign to raise awareness of the early signs and symptoms of dementia is being launched today, in a bid to improve the numbers of people who receive a diagnosis. The campaign aims to encourage more people to seek an early diagnosis.
In a Department of Health survey, only a third of people over 40 said they understood the differences between normal signs of ageing and signs of dementia. Nearly a third of people over 40 thought there was no support available for people with dementia.
The word dementia describes a group of symptoms including memory loss, confusion and mood changes. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, while other causes include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia.
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“It’s a travesty that 60% of people with dementia in England are not getting the diagnosis they need. Although people may be fearful of the worst, a diagnosis can empower them to access the right treatments and support to preserve independence.
“In our search for a treatment that can stop dementia in its tracks, it’s become increasingly clear that any new drugs will need to be given early in order to have an effect. The ability to diagnose dementia is crucial to the search for an effective treatment, which is why we’re investing in world-leading research into diagnosis – such as a major study at King’s College London to find a simple blood test for Alzheimer’s disease, which carries real promise.
“With 820,000 people affected by dementia in the UK, and a rapidly ageing population, research to improve diagnosis and find new treatments is vital. We must invest in research if we are to make the progress that’s so urgently needed.”
Alice Phillips, from Seaham Harbour near Sunderland, a Champion of Alzheimer’s Research UK, added:
“My husband Arthur was only 49 when he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. It was a dreadful shock but a relief to know what was wrong. Having the diagnosis allowed me to get the right support and treatments for him.
“Arthur’s world gradually became more and more confused as his memory failed and he started to have hallucinations. It broke my heart to see such a wonderful, capable man gradually fade away, unable to do anything for himself. As I fed Arthur, his blue eyes would look at me with no recognition. He died in 2006, just after my mother-in-law received the same diagnosis. Research is the only answer to this cruel disease.”
Alzheimer’s Research UK
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