Rise in dementia diagnosis

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THE number of people diagnosed with dementia in North Somerset has increased, according to figures released by the Alzheimer’s Society.

The charity, which supports those with dementia and also funds research into the illness, has been comparing diagnosis rates across the UK to raise awareness of how many people are living with dementia.

In North Somerset in 2011, 1,375 people were diagnosed with the syndrome and in 2012 this increased to 1,415.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, the diagnosis rate for North Somerset in 2012 was 39.7 per cent, below the national average of 46 per cent.

Across the South West, the charity believes there are some 49,000 living with the condition without a diagnosis.


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Debbie Donnison, area manager for the Alzheimer’s Society in the South West, said: “It’s encouraging to see an increase in the number of people receiving a diagnosis in the South West, but, more than half of people living with dementia aren’t receiving the support, benefits and treatments that are often available.”

In North Somerset, there are a number of services available for people with dementia and their carers to access.

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This includes memory clinics where patients can be referred by their GP and a Forget Me Not service at many health centres where people can go to get information, advice and reassurance following a diagnosis.

The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which will begin controlling North Somerset health services from April, is also working with the Alzheimer’s Society to provide support for carers of those with dementia, which includes giving respite care.

However, despite the concerns raised by the Alzheimer’s Society, the clinical lead for mental health and dementia on the CCG board, Dr Mark O’Connor, does not believe those with early signs of dementia but without a diagnosis are at risk.

The Long Ashton GP said: “I think it is well documented there are more dementia sufferers than are recorded on patient lists.

“With dementia it is sometimes a very easy and clear-cut diagnosis to make due to the massive social disruption it can cause.

“At the other end of the scale, there are those in their mid-60s or 70s who are starting to wonder whether their forgetfulness is something else.

“Our registers certainly don’t record as high a number of people with dementia as there are but we don’t feel they are at risk.

“Those that really need the services usually have behavioural and psychological problems that diagnose quickly.”

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