People are being put off visiting their doctor with symptoms of dementia as they fear their "lives will be over" once they are diagnosed, new research has suggested.
A poll of 1,000 GPs by the Alzheimer's Society found that more than half (56%) of them had diagnosed people who had suffered with symptoms of dementia for months or even years.
A separate poll of 2,000 people found that almost two thirds (62%) said a dementia diagnosis would mean their life was over.
In a survey of 2,000 people, one quarter (24%) said they thought a dementia diagnosis would mean having to stop going for a walk on their own.
Meanwhile 45% believed they would be immediately forced to give up driving.
Almost half (49%) said they would worry that people would think they were "mad", while 22% feared losing a partner or friends.
More than a third (37%) said they would put off seeing a GP about memory problems because they think dementia is just "part of the ageing process".
"Too many people are in the dark about dementia," Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society told the Press Association.
"Many feel that a dementia diagnosis means someone is immediately incapable of living a normal life, while myths and misunderstandings continue to contribute to the stigma and isolation that many people will feel.
"This Dementia Awareness Week, we want to reassure people that life doesn't end when dementia begins."
He continued: "We know that dementia is the most feared health condition of our time and there's no question that it can have a profound and devastating impact on people, their family and friends - but getting a timely diagnosis will enable people with dementia to live as well as possible."
It is estimated that 225,000 people will develop dementia this year, which equates to one person every three minutes.
Joy Watson, 57, from Eccles, was diagnosed with early onset dementia in 2014 after being told her symptoms amounted to depression.
She said she struggled with symptoms for six years before being diagnosed.
"When my GP finally told me I had Alzheimer's, after six years of battling with symptoms and not knowing what the cause was, I felt huge relief," she recalled.
"For so long, I didn't know or understand what was wrong. All I needed was a diagnosis to be able to move forward with my life - and now I can."