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Department of Health to improve awareness of dementia

26/09/2012 | By Sharmila Chauhan
The Department of Health is launching a new campaign to increase awareness of dementia. Many people in the UK live with dementia and are never diagnosed: only two fifths, under half the people, with the condition receive a formal diagnosis. Thousands of other people live with the condition with no medical help or support. The number of people in England living with dementia is 670,000, but this is expected to double in the next 30 years.

Research of the general public shows that:
• Half (50%) of people say they would find it hard to talk about dementia to a friend or family member they thought might have it
• A third of people (33%) said that the reasons for not wanting to discuss dementia with a friend or relative included fear of upsetting someone or feeling awkward or anxious
• Almost two-thirds (63%) of people are not confident at being able to tell difference between the signs of dementia and the normal signs of ageing.

The 'A Day to Remember' is part of a larger campaign encompassing the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia.
It will be launched on World Alzheimer’s Day and hope to:
• Raise awareness of the condition
• Help people to identify what the initial signs and symptoms are
• Encourage people to seek medical help.
• Advise people on how to start on how to start conversations around dementia with friends and family
It is hoped that by encouraging people to talk about any concerns or symptoms around the condition, they will be more likely to visit their GP.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: “Dementia is one of biggest challenges we are facing, but while there remains no cure, early diagnosis can help people take control of their condition and plan for the future. This campaign sends a clear and important message – if you have spotted signs or symptoms in your loved ones then have that difficult conversation because diagnosis makes a difference. With an ageing population we know the estimated 670,000 people living with dementia in England today is set to grow, which is why we have made dementia a clear national priority.”

The first port of call for people who think that they may have the condition is to visit their GP. Patients who have health insurance can then choose to be treated on private healthcare or the NHS according to their preferences.

Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, Jeremy Hughes said: “Talking to a loved one about dementia will probably be one of the most difficult conversations you ever have, but it will be worth it. Early diagnosis is crucial in helping people with dementia to access the support and help they need to live well with the condition.”