“It’s not called getting old, it’s called getting ill” is the name of a new Alzheimer’s Society campaign launched in Dementia Action Week (May 15-21) to stress the benefits of a diagnosis.
New research reveals “widespread confusion” over dementia symptoms as many people think they are merely signs of old age. And one in three people who notice symptoms of dementia keep their fears to themselves for more than a month, according to a survey by the Society.
“This Dementia Action Week we want everyone to know there is support out there if you’re confused about symptoms, or don’t know how to have that first tricky conversation,” said Alzheimer’s Society CEO Kate Lee. “As soon as you realise something is not right, come to Alzheimer’s Society – you can use our symptoms checklist to help have that all-important first chat with your GP.”
Among other findings from the survey of more than 1,100 people are that 23% of respondents waited over six months before they spoke to a medical professional and only 15% brought up the issue straightaway. Respondents cited not wanting to worry family members and fear of stigma as among the reasons for failing to act quickly. A third of respondents said they did not want to concern loved ones, while 16% were afraid that their relationships might change.
But the top reason people stayed silent was confusing dementia symptoms with normal ageing, something mentioned by 64% of those responding to the survey.
Alzheimer’s Society has placed a video prominently on its website home page promoting its campaign message and encouraging people to get a timely diagnosis. Tools and information sheets on the significance and practicalities of diagnosis can be found on the Dementia Action Week page at www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/dementia-action-week.