CHARITY officials have urged Northumberland individuals and families who may be dealing with dementia to visit a doctor as soon as possible.
New figures from the Alzheimer’s Society have revealed that there were 2,038 county residents diagnosed with it in 2012, an increase on the 2011 total of 1,844, but the area is bottom of the estimated detection rate for the North East.
It is thought that there are 4,691 people with dementia in Northumberland and if this is correct, it would mean only 43.4 per cent of them have been identified as having the condition. The number of those not diagnosed in the region is estimated to be 16,700.
Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt has said that he will be touring the country to raise awareness of the issue and encourage local areas to set ambitious targets for improved dementia diagnosis.
Steve Errington, Alzheimer’s Society Locality Manager for North of Tyne, said: “It’s good to see an increase in the number of people that are receiving a diagnosis in Northumberland, but more than half of those living with dementia in the county aren’t getting the information and support they need.
“There are specific benefits and treatments to help people deal with the condition, so it’s vital that they receive an early diagnosis. This will also enable them to move forward and continue to lead fulfilling and positive lives.
“A key aspect to our work is removing the stigma associated with dementia among some health practitioners and the general public, which in turn gives people more confidence to seek a diagnosis if they have significant memory problems.”
Those who think they or a family member may have dementia are advised by the charity to speak to a GP.
For more information about what steps to take, telephone 0845 3000336 or visit www.alzheimers.org.uk/memoryworry