Six in ten sufferers of dementia haven’t been diagnosed yet
UP TO six in ten people who are suffering from dementia in the UK have not been diagnosed with the condition, according to a leading Scottish specialist.
Professor June Andrews said dementia was being treated in a “casually neglectful way” and said there would be “an outcry” if the same approach was taken to other serious conditions, such as cancer and heart disease.
She claimed a lack of information was preventing early diagnosis and delaying action that could slow down the illness
Prof Andrews, director of the Dementia Services Development Centre at Stirling University, has called on doctors and care workers to do more to help sufferers. This includes offering advice on how diet, exercise and exposure to daylight can help symptoms.
She also called for more elderly people to be given greater practical strategies to deal with symptoms such as sleeplessness, agitation, anxiety, excessive fatigue and aggression.
Prof Andrews said: “Dementia care could be so much better than it is. You can get diagnosed earlier, while there is time to sort out your affairs, and make changes in your lifestyle to keep you at home for longer. There is medication that can delay the troublesome symptoms.
“It is pathetic that we spend a fortune in our society doing things that do not work, or are actively damaging for the person with dementia. We need to challenge the entire dementia industry to get on and do the job they are paid for.
“In general, we would be inclined to sue if cancer, heart disease or a stroke was treated in this casually neglectful way – and dementia already costs more than these three conditions put together.”
Caring for people with dementia costs the UK more than £28 billion and the number of those affected is predicted to double in the next 20 years. About 84,000 people in Scotland suffer from dementia.
Prof Andrews said: “I do not think there is going to be a cure for dementia any time soon and we need lawyers to help the families to sort out the personal resources and wealth. The legal profession is where people turn. Those in the profession should know more about dementia and know things like the time [in which] the person with dementia loses their capacity to make decisions, and other people need to make their decisions for them.
“I would like Scotland to be the best place in the world for people with dementia. We need to make sure everyone knows as much about dementia as possible.”
The charity Alzheimer Scotland said that about half the population of the country known a family member or close friend with dementia and that a recent survey found 27 per cent of people said that a political party’s policies on dementia would influence how they voted.
It also revealed that 55 per cent of people in Scotland would encourage someone who they thought might have the condition to go to their GP. However just over a quarter of people said they did not know what they would do to help someone they thought had dementia.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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