Alzheimer’s Society is launching a new campaign this Dementia Action Week to encourage people across the country to seek a dementia diagnosis if they are experiencing symptoms.
An emotive new TV advert tells people that asking the same question over and over again is not called getting old, it’s called getting ill – and could be a sign of dementia.
The charity carried out a robust survey of 1019 people living with dementia and their carers to get valuable insight about the barriers and benefits of getting a dementia diagnosis, which has led to the campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of dementia and urge people to come to them for support.
“Diagnosis is the key to unlocking vital treatment and support. There are 900,000 people currently living with dementia and the condition is the UK’s biggest killer, yet diagnosis rates are at a five-year low,” explains Kate Lee, Alzheimer’s Society CEO.
“We estimate there are tens of thousands of people currently living with undiagnosed dementia, therefore without access to the vital care and support that a diagnosis can bring.
“Our campaign is based on new research which suggests confusing dementia symptoms with getting old is the number one reason people put off getting a diagnosis. We have created a campaign with a clear central message – memory loss is not a normal part of ageing – to raise awareness of symptoms and encourage them to get that all-important diagnosis. We have created new resources to make it easier for people to take that first step and a symptom checklist to support people to have those conversations with their GP.
“Getting a diagnosis is daunting but we believe it’s better to know. We at the Alzheimer’s Society are here to help and we want people to come to us for support.”
The survey carried out by the charity revealed:
- 1 in 4 people waited for two years after noticing symptoms to get a diagnosis
- The main reason people didn’t seek a diagnosis sooner was confusing symptoms with getting old (42%)
- Nine out of ten people said they saw at least one benefit to getting a diagnosis, such as being able to plan for the future or accessing crucial care and support
Alzheimer’s Society aims to support dementia diagnosis conversations amongst families and hard-pressed healthcare professionals with online support and advice and a new symptoms checklist – developed with leading clinicians – which can be printed and taken to the doctor to help both patients and clinicians have an easier diagnosis experience.
The charity’s research also found culturally specific barriers to diagnosis within the Punjabi community – with stigma or taboo around the condition. Difficulties with language and communication can make going to the GP and discussing symptoms even more challenging.
Working with leading academics specialising in dementia in the South Asian community, Alzheimer’s Society now has new dedicated online resources offering support and advice in Punjabi on its website featuring translated information booklets and a bilingual film to tackle dementia misconceptions in the Punjabi community.
The charity hopes that its work with the Punjabi community will inform how it reaches more diverse communities in future.
To find out more about the campaign visit www.alzheimers.org.uk/memoryloss.