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Dementia Patients Delay Doctor's Visit Over Myths, Fears

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Most people with symptoms of dementia prefer to delay a visit to their general practitioners (GPs) due to fears that the diagnosis would indicate their "life is over," a new survey in the United Kingdom revealed.

Six out of 10 people (or about 62 percent) in a survey of 2,000 individuals said they felt this way, according to an Alzheimer's Society research that was released on May 16.

The same proportion believed the diagnosis would mean they would no longer enjoy things they used to like, they would be barred from driving, they would not be able to go out alone anymore and they would be thought of as "mad."

Some 37 percent dismissed dementia as just being part of the "aging process."

A second survey, which involved 1,000 GPs, discovered that 56 percent of them diagnosed someone with suspected dementia whose signs had been surfacing for seven months. Another 10 percent diagnosed a person whose signs had been showing up for at least 12 months or more.

Debunking Misconceptions

As Dementia Week begins, the Alzheimer's Society is encouraging the public to act on as early as possible when warning signs manifest in order to have a better chance of living well for longer.

About 225,000 individuals will develop dementia in the UK this year, the Alzheimer's Society says. Evidence suggests that the earlier the diagnosis and access to proper treatment, support, and information, the better the chances of being well.

However, many misconceptions still exist that might prevent people from seeking diagnosis, as evidenced by the survey.

Too many people are still in the dark about dementia, says Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society. Myths and misconceptions add to the isolation and stigma that many people with dementia feel.

Hughes says there is no question that dementia has a devastating and profound impact on the patient and the family members, but he says a timely diagnosis will help people to live well as possible.

"[W]e want to reassure people that life doesn't end when dementia begins," says Hughes.

Signs of dementia include the following: forgetfulness affects daily life, becoming confused in places that should be familiar, becoming lost on familiar journeys and other people noticing your forgetfulness.

You can support Dementia Week by spreading awareness about the condition and encouraging anyone with the symptoms to confront their concerns.

Photo: Kema Keur | Flickr

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