More needs to be done to diagnose dementia early

Posted on 21 December 2011

Too many people suffering with dementia are going undiagnosed and are missing out on the vital care and support they need.

This is according to the Alzheimer's Society. It feels an increase in diagnosis rates of just two per cent in the past year is not good enough and is backing an All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia (APPG) inquiry on how more can be done.

A cross-party group of peers and MPs will attempt to investigate the reasons behind why diagnosis is being missed, why diagnosis rates vary greatly across the country, how much early diagnosis will cost or save and what extra support will be needed.

A recent Alzheimer's Society questionnaire found that 20 per cent of GPs feel that they are not very well informed on the care available to dementia sufferers.

This means that the disorder ranks fourth out of five conditions in which GPs feel least confident about after asthma, diabetes and breast cancer. The least informed appear to be in London and Wales (28 per cent and 29 per cent respectively).

Research by the Department of Health, ahead of its current dementia awareness campaign, also found that only around a third of adults aged over 40 understand the differences between normal signs of ageing and signs of dementia.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer's Society said that although diagnosis rates are on the up, work still needs to be carried out to ensure that low levels do not remain the norm.

He added: "Early diagnosis and early support not only helps a person live better day to day but also stops them reaching crisis point. This brings the additional benefit of saving the NHS and social care system many millions of pounds a year."

The figures come at a time when the NHS says that it has experienced a 12 per cent rise in the number of dementia sufferers it deals with over the past five years.

Posted by the paying for care editorial team



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