Dementia: Many suffer in silence

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THE number of people being diagnosed with dementia in the Eastbourne area has increased over the last year.

New figures released this week show that the number of sufferers locally is around 6,602 in 2011 compared to 6,439 the year before.

However, of that total, health experts estimate that only 35 per cent – just over one in three – have a suitable diagnosis for their condition.

This has gone up since 2010, but by less than two per cent, leading to calls from dementia charities and support groups for more attention to be paid to local residents potentially suffering in silence. The stats are for the area covered by East Sussex Downs and Weald PCT.

But in the entire south east the study shows there are more than 40,000 living with dementia without receiving any of the benefits, drug treatments or support which accompany a diagnosis.

And according to the Alzheimer’s Society, this delay can end up costing the taxpayer thousands of pounds because without proper treatment sufferers are in need of far more support at home.

Chris Wyatt, area manager for the Alzheimer’s Society, said, “It’s shocking that well over half of people living with dementia still don’t have a diagnosis in the south east and so aren’t receiving the support, benefits and the medical treatments that are often available.

“Everyone is a little bit forgetful now and again, but when memory loss starts to interfere with 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.”

Anyone concerned about memory problems should contact their GP. Early indicators include struggling to remember recent events despite being able to recall things that happened in the past, finding it difficult to follow conversations or TV programmes or regularly forgetting the names of friends or everyday objects. Call the Alzheimer’s Society on 0845 300 0336 or visit www.alzheimers.org.uk/roadshow