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Published on: May 22, 2016
by Mark Gould for OnMedica:
Thousands of people worried that they have dementia put off seeing their GP for up to a year or more, as they feel that receiving such news would mean their life was over, according to a study carried out by the Alzheimer’s Society.
The Alzheimer’s Society warns that a lack of diagnosis is denying many people the chance of getting the best possible treatment, information and/or support which improves the chances of living well for longer. It also means that thousands of people are not being enabled to plan for the future while they still have capacity to make important decisions.
The YouGov survey, which questioned over 2,000 people, revealed that two-thirds of people surveyed (62%) felt a diagnosis of dementia would mean their life was over. The survey also reveals that there are still many worrying myths that exist about dementia, which might put people off seeking a diagnosis; almost one in four (24%) thought that people who received a dementia diagnosis would instantly have to stop going out for a walk on their own; and almost half (45%) thought they would have to immediately stop driving a car. Some 58% thought they would personally struggle to join in conversations post-diagnosis and 49% worried people would think they were “mad”.
Other common myths revealed in the research include that over half (58%) of people think a dementia diagnosis means no longer enjoying the things they used to, 22% of people fear they would lose their partner or friends, and over one in three (37%) say they would put off seeking medical attention from a GP about memory problems because they think dementia is just “a part of the ageing process”.
The charity also questioned 1,000 GPs of whom 43% (430) said that, on average, when they diagnose someone with suspected dementia their symptoms have been going on for 7-12 months. And 13% (129) GPs said that, on average, the symptoms had been going on for 12 months or more.
Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said too many people are in the dark about dementia. “Many feel that a dementia diagnosis means someone is immediately incapable of living a normal life, while myths and misunderstandings continue to contribute to the stigma and isolation that many people will feel. This Dementia Awareness Week, we want to reassure people that life doesn’t end when dementia begins.
“We know that dementia is the most feared health condition of our time and there’s no question that it can have a profound and devastating impact on people, their family and friends – but getting a timely diagnosis will enable people with dementia to live as well as possible.”
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