Dementia Action Week: Why Early Diagnosis is Critical

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From 16th May – 22nd May 2022 it is Dementia Action Week. There are an estimated 900,000 people currently living with dementia in the UK – a figure that is expected to rise to 1.4 million by 2030. One in three of us will go on to develop dementia in our lifetime, making dementia the number one cause of death in the UK and one of the greatest challenges we face as a society.

There are no existing cures for dementia, and few treatments – instead, people with dementia rely on social care, either professionally or in the form of unpaid care from family members and loved ones. 

Dementia Action Week aims to ensure there is appropriate social care available to all people with dementia, and aims to raise awareness to enable everyone to access the care so critically needed now and in the future.

What’s Dementia Action Week?

Dementia Action Week is an awareness raising campaign, and is Alzheimer’s Society biggest and longest running movement.

The campaign works with organisations throughout the UK in order to raise dementia awareness and encourage people to ‘act on dementia’, looking into particular themes each year.

What’s the theme of this year’s Dementia Action Week?

This year’s theme is diagnosis.

For the first time ever, there has been a sustained drop in dementia diagnosis rates. This year’s dementia action week takes a look into the main barriers around getting a dementia diagnosis, and what needs to be done to ensure people are getting the help they need on time.

Why have dementia diagnosis rates dropped?

Dementia diagnosis rates have fallen to a five-year low. This means that people who may be in vital need of support could be living with undiagnosed dementia. While it may be scary to come forward for a diagnosis, once you have you can put the proper support you need in place.

Alzheimer’s Society research showed that many people mistakenly see memory loss as a sign of normal ageing – a misconception that may be the biggest obstacle to less dementia diagnosis.

In addition, increased referral waits to specialists and being in denial can all prevent someone from seeking help when it may be critically needed. Alzheimer’s Society’s aim this Dementia Action Week is to ensure more people can recognise potential dementia symptoms, know where to go for support and feel empowered to do so, and improve the overall diagnosis process for everyone involved.

10 key symptoms of dementia

Knowing what symptoms to look out for are one critical way to ensure that people with possible dementia are seeking help – or so family members or friends also know what to look for.

The 10 main symptoms of dementia are:

  1. Memory loss
  2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  3. Problems with language
  4. Disorientation to time and place
  5. Poor or decreased judgement
  6. Problems keeping track of things
  7. Misplacing things
  8. Changes in mood and behaviour
  9. Challenges understanding visual and spatial information
  10. Withdrawal from work or social activities