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Increase in number of people diagnosed with dementia: over 400,000 remain undiagnosed, according to Alzheimer's Society

Published 22 February 2012

New figures have revealed an increase in the number of people being diagnosed with dementia in England and Wales. The number diagnosed rose in a year by 18,000 from 265,000 to 283,000.

However, the figures have revealed that only 41% of people that are living with dementia have a diagnosis - an increase of 2% since last year. It is thought that there are now more than 400,000 people that are living with the condition but aren't receiving any of the benefits, support and drug treatments that can come 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.*

Parts of England and Wales saw a significant increase in diagnosis rates over the last year, but some parts saw a decrease in diagnosis rates.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer's Society said:

'A diagnosis opens the door to support, benefits and the possibility of medical treatment which can make a real difference to people's lives. If you find that memory loss is starting to interfere with daily life then it's important to get it checked out as soon as possible. The sooner people are diagnosed, the sooner they can get the support they need.'

Elizabeth Ashton's mother, Pamela, was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia in 2008 but had shown signs of the disease for at least 10 years before her death last year. 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.'

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 or that of someone they know can also contact Alzheimer's Society National Dementia Helpline 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

* The World Alzheimer's Report 2010 estimated that an early diagnosis of dementia results in a cost saving for taxpayers of around $10,000 per person with dementia because it can delay someone needing to be treated in an institution.