It is said that across the UK someone develops dementia every three minutes, and whilst it is more common amongst older people, around 1 in every twenty cases will affect someone aged between 40 and 65.
During Dementia Action Week 2018 NHS Dorset CCG will be raising awareness of the condition, asking people living in and around Dorset to seek help if they are concerned either for themselves or a loved one.
The symptoms of dementia can progress slowly over a number of years and may initially be put down to old age or confused with other conditions. However common symptoms include
- Forgetting recent conversations or events;
- Misplacing items;
- Forgetting the names of places and objects or having trouble thinking of the right word;
- Finding it harder to make decisions.
Anyone with concerns should speak with their usual GP who will be able to make an assessment and make a referral to a GP or doctor who specialise in memory problems or further help if appropriate.
Stella from Christchurch describes her experiences “When we got an early diagnosis of my Mum’s Vascular Dementia it opened the door to support and information that I am certain has made our journey a little easier and absolutely invaluable. This is a complicated, challenging, emotional and often cruel disease that with support has helped my Mum maintain and enjoy her quality of life as long as possible and given our family the support and friendship to care for her and adapt to the changes we are all constantly experiencing.
As a society we must be more understanding of dementia and accept that it is a disease of the brain and not a natural ageing process and most certainly nothing to be ashamed of. We are learning more about this disease by the day and I would encourage everyone to be more dementia aware and take advantage of the information and support that can help us all. Reach out and help is there!”
Help and advice is also available in the form of The Dementia Care Directory, the fourth edition of which has recently been published.
The directory which has been published in partnership with people with dementia and their carers, other health organisations and local authorities gives people advice on what they can do if they are concerned, along with details of services available for people who are diagnosed with dementia, their carers and families. Copies are available through GP surgeries or via healthcare professionals; it can also be downloaded from www.dorsetccg.nhs.uk.
The current dementia diagnosis rate in Dorset is 61.4%* – a significant improvement on 2012 when rates were amongst the worst in the UK. This means out of an estimated 13,101 of people living in Dorset over the age of 65 years with suspected dementia, 8,045 have been diagnosed.
Dr Paul French is a local GP and lead for mental health with NHS Dorset CCG. He said “The last few years have seen us put in a huge amount of time and effort into improving services and care for people with dementia and I am pleased to see a leap in diagnosis figures for Dorset. We are currently in the midst of a full review of services and hope to be seeking the views of local people on our models and proposals later this year”.
For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/alzheimers-disease or the Alzheimer’s Society website www.alzheimers.org.uk.
*Figure for March 2018 – NHS Digital.