More than half (56%) of people are putting off seeking a dementia diagnosis for up to a year or more, a study carried out by Alzheimer’s Society has found.
Dementia is the most feared health condition in the UK, perhaps explaining also why almost two-thirds of people surveyed (62%) felt a diagnosis would mean their life was over, according to the organisation.
225,000 people will develop dementia this year – the equivalent of one person every three minutes. And the Alzheimer’s Society is warning that a lack of diagnosis is denying many of these people the chance of getting the best possible treatment, information and support.
The YouGov research also reveals that there are still many worrying myths that exist about dementia, which might put people off seeking a diagnosis – almost 1 in 4 (24%) thought that people who received a dementia diagnosis would instantly have to stop going out for a walk on their own and almost half (45%) thought they would have to immediately stop driving a car.
58% thought they would personally struggle to join in conversations post-diagnosis and 49% worried people would think they were ‘mad’.
Other common myths revealed in the research include that over half (58%) of people think a dementia diagnosis means no longer enjoying the things they used to, 22% of people fear they would lose their partner or friends, and over one in three (37%) say they would put off seeking medical attention from a GP about memory problems because they think dementia is just ‘a part of the ageing process’. 68% think they would no longer be the same person if they were to be diagnosed with dementia.
The charity also found that almost two thirds (64%) didn’t think that they could seek help and support from a charity when they, or a person close to them, develops dementia.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Too many people are in the dark about dementia – many feel that 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. This Dementia Awareness Week, we want to reassure people that life doesn’t end when dementia begins.
“We know that 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.”