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Dementia Action Week is the Alzheimer’s Society’s largest and longest-running awareness campaign. Each year they choose a theme, and this year it’s diagnosis.
The Society’s research has demonstrated that the most common factor in people not seeking a diagnosis of dementia is the misconception that memory loss is part of the normal ageing process. But other significant barriers to investigating symptoms are long waiting times to see a specialist and plain and simple denial.
There is also the lingering effect of the pandemic, during which there has been a significant and sustained fall in dementia diagnosis rates. A study published by UCL last June found that “diagnosis rates for dementia dropped from 9.09 per 1,000 adults pre-COVID-19 (2018/2019) to 4.53 per 1,000 adults in June/July 2020 and to 3.58 adults per 1,000 in November/December 2020.”
With diagnosis rates currently at a five-year low, the Society is encouraging anyone who might be living with undiagnosed dementia to come forward for guidance and support and to feel empowered to take the next step. They say:
“This Dementia Action Week, we want to encourage those who might be living with, or close to someone who might be living with, undiagnosed dementia to:
- be able to understand and recognise potential dementia symptoms
- come to us for guidance and support
- feel empowered to take the next step
- improve the diagnosis process for both them and healthcare professionals”
What is the ‘next step’?
The next step is to undergo a dementia assessment, which may sound daunting, but the Society provides a considerable amount of information on what to expect during an assessment. One benefit of being assessed is that if you receive a diagnosis of dementia, you will usually be advised what type of dementia you are suffering from (although it’s not always possible to confirm this).
What will be happening during Dementia Action Week?
The Society will be raising awareness of the support they can offer before, during and after a dementia diagnosis, and encouraging people to come forward for an assessment.
Although such a diagnosis is incredibly difficult to come to terms with, the Society believes that it’s better to know. There are therapies and drugs that can often help manage the condition or even slow its progress, but the trigger for receiving them is a diagnosis. And diagnosis is also key to unlocking practical and financial assistance for the sufferer and those around them.