People with symptoms of dementia ‘fear seeing doctor’

Angela Rippon appears in a programme about dementia. Picture: BBC
Angela Rippon appears in a programme about dementia. Picture: BBC
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People are put off visiting GPs with symptoms of dementia due to fears they will be diagnosed with the condition and their lives “will be over”, research has found.

Alzheimer’s Society found 56 per cent of 1,000 GPs had diagnosed people who had suffered with symptoms for many month and sometimes more than a year.

In a separate poll, almost two-thirds of 2,000 people said a diagnosis of dementia would mean their life “was over”.

And half said they would worry people would think they were “mad” while 22 per cent feared losing a partner or friends as a result of being diagnosed,

And almost four in ten said they would put off seeing a GP about memory problems because they think dementia is just “part of the ageing process”, according to the survey carried out for Dementia Awareness Week.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Many feel 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.

“We want to reassure people life doesn’t end when dementia begins. We know 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.”

Figures from the charity show 225,000 people will develop dementia this year in the UK.

Meanwhile newresearch from Golden Charter, a UK-based funeral plan provider, has found less than one in five people 45 or over have a Power of Attorney in place to look after their wishes and finances when they lack mental capacity.”

Ronnie Wayte, the company’s chief executive, said: “Our advice is plan early and get a Power of Attorney in place while you’re still mentally fit.

Former newsreader Angela Rippon, 71, has revealed she updated her will so her family know her wishes if she develops dementia. She said: “None of us know what’s going to happen to us but I can do things like make sure my will is up-to-date.”

Her mother Edna died from the condition and Rippon believes her father John also suffered from the illness. The presenter appears in a BBC One programme about dementia this week.