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Dementia cases rise in East Anglia

The East of England has seen an increase in the number of people diagnosed with dementia
48,000 remain undiagnosed in region, according to Alzheimer’s Society

New figures have revealed an increase in the number of people being diagnosed with dementia in the East of England. The number diagnosed rose by 2000 from 27,500 to 29,500 over the last year.

However, the figures have revealed that only 38% of people that are living with dementia have a diagnosis in the East of England – an increase of 1.6% in the last year. It is thought that there are 48,000 people in the region that are living with the condition but aren’t receiving any of the benefits, drug treatments and support that comes from receiving a diagnosis.

Studies also show that an early diagnosis can save the taxpayer thousands of pounds, because it can delay someone needing care outside of their own home.*

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough saw the biggest improvement in diagnosis rates in the region, with an increase of 2.3%, well above the national average of 1.8%.

Paul Dunnery, Area manager for Alzheimer’s Society in East Anglia and Central says: “Well over half of people that are living with dementia still don’t have a diagnosis in East Anglia and Central and so aren’t receiving the support, benefits and the medical treatments that are often available. We have seen an increase over the last year, but there is still a long way to go.”

“Everyone is a little bit forgetful now and again, but when memory loss starts to interfere with your daily life it is important to get it checked out as soon as possible. The sooner people are diagnosed, the sooner they can get support and start planning for the future.”

Elizabeth Ashton moved to Norfolk from Hampshire to be nearer to her mother, Pamela, who lived in Suffolk and died last year. She was diagnosed with Vascular dementia in 2008 but had shown signs of the disease for at least 10 years before her death. Elizabeth said:

“I thought her forgetfulness was just a sign of aging and pursuing a diagnosis at the time, just didn’t occur to me or my GP. I can see now that we should have been more aware, and an early diagnosis would have been a great help. She might have responded to medication had she been diagnosed earlier, and we would have had a greater understanding of the difficulties she faced.”

“If more people were aware of the prevalence of dementia it wouldn’t be such a fearful disease. Agencies, especially should be more aware of the disease. There is never a box to tick for dementia. And a greater awareness would bring a greater understanding, and a greater understanding of the disease would generate a greater knowledge of how to care for someone with dementia.”

Alzheimer’s Society recommends that anyone concerned about memory problems, and experiencing any of the following should speak to their GP:

• struggling to remember recent events, despite being able to recall things that happened in the past
• finding it difficult to follow conversations or programmes on TV
• regularly forgetting the names of friends or everyday objects
• unable to recall things you’ve heard, seen or read
• having difficulty in making decisions
• repeating conversations or losing the thread in speech
• having problems thinking and reasoning
• feeling anxious, depressed or angry about your forgetfulness
• finding that other people are commenting on your forgetfulness

People who are worried about their memory can also contact Alzheimer’s Society on 0845 300 0336.

Alzheimer’s Society and Tesco are currently touring the UK to raise awareness of dementia. If you would like to find out when it is visiting your area, please visit www.alzheimers.org.uk/roadshow

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