THE BLOG

Don't Cheat Generations Out of Early Dementia Diagnosis

07/07/2015 10:03 BST | Updated 06/07/2016 10:59 BST

I woke today to the most horrifying headlines - doctors reluctant to diagnose patients with dementia because they feel there is nothing the NHS can do.

I found this headline frightening. But the statistics quoted in the story, after a survey of 1,000 UK GPs as part of the Alzheimer's Society's 2015 Annual Report, made even more terrifying reading 'from the surgery stance'.

•A quarter of doctors would consider avoiding sending someone for tests if they were unlikely to be offered any treatment or support afterwards

•25% would be reluctant to diagnose patients if the condition seems already very advanced

•A total of 77% said patients with the condition were having to rely on family members as carers because they were not given enough assistance from the health service or local council

Doctors' reluctance to diagnose dementia because of the lacking support landscape is cheating future generations out of quality dementia care.

It's literally taking away people's choices.

I work with dementia every day, I'm a CAREGiver with Home Instead Senior Care and I look after three people living with the condition, two ladies and one gentleman. I've worked in care for many years and I know what I've seen during that time. I know early diagnosis means dignity.

That's why I believe early diagnosis is critical. It allows people diagnosed with dementia, and their families, to seek out the support that's right for them - to enable them to live well with the condition.

With early diagnosis, families have the gift of time - not only to fully understand the type of dementia that their loved one has but to make care plans that will allow them to live independently as long as possible.

GPs' reluctance to diagnose dementia sets a chilling backdrop for an ageing population in the UK. Now look at that landscape in the context of the latest dementia statistics...

•There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025.

•This will soar to 2 million by 2051.

•225,000 will develop dementia this year, that's one every three minutes.

What kind of choices would you want to be able to make, for yourself, your partner or your parents?

Having an early diagnosis gives a person a modicum of control to plan and make informed decisions while they are able to. What's the alternative? Skipping those chapters of choice and jumping straight to the deepest part of the condition. That's cheating future generations out of quality dementia care.

I believe our nation's GPs have a huge responsibility on their shoulders as the reality of our ageing population bites.

Doctors, please don't strip away choices, please don't short change people by cheating them out of an early dementia diagnosis.