My mother, 89, died in May from advanced dementia and diabetes mellitus, two diseases with often fatal outcomes of which people seem unaware.
Yet, new research has revealed that 38% of the UK population are most concerned about developing dementia in the future. The recent YouGov survey, commissioned by award winning brain clinic Re:Cognition Health, has revealed that 49% of those questioned don’t realise that dementia is fatal, despite it being the leading cause of death in England and Wales.
The survey of 2049 UK adults was commissioned to determine how much the British public know about dementia and its symptoms.
Despite more people (38%) fearing they may develop dementia, compared to cancer (26%) and heart disease (6%), many (11%) aren’t sure of what the symptoms of dementia are at all, apart from memory loss, with (81%) of Brits thinking difficulty remembering recent events is a symptom of dementia.
62% of those surveyed know that dementia can cause unexpected and uncharacteristic anger, but 68% didn’t realise that Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia can cause inappropriate sexual behaviour such as making inappropriate remarks.
Alarmingly, it was revealed that 11% of Britons are unsure of what the symptoms of dementia are at all; however, it is reassuring to discover that 87% believe early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease and other causes of dementia can make a difference to the future health of the individual. Dr Emer MacSweeney, CEO and Medical Director of Re:Cognition Health says: ‘Early intervention and accurate diagnosis of the specific cause of a person’s cognitive decline are key to ensuring the individual receives access to the correct and best treatment, at the earliest possible stage, before their symptoms have progressed to those of dementia. In order to receive an early diagnosis, it is essential to recognise symptoms as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this survey highlights that the general public is not yet sufficiently well informed; there is a massive lack of awareness.’
Early symptoms of cognitive impairment which may lead to dementia include:
• Short term memory loss
• Repeatedly asking the same questions
• Changes in behaviour – unexpected/uncharacteristic anger and changes in mood
• Getting lost in a familiar environment
• Forgetting words/problems with speech and language
• Loss of sense of direction/disorientation
• Difficulty in performing every day (seemingly normal) tasks
• Misplacing items
• Difficulty making decisions and planning
• Issues with balancing and spatial awareness
• Becoming passive and disinterested
• Problems with calculation
‘If you or a loved one are experiencing one of more of these early symptoms, I advise you, strongly, to seek prompt medical advice. An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease and other causes of cognitive impairment, leading eventually to symptoms of dementia, will give you the chance to change your quality of life and eventual outcome, for the individual and their families,’ adds Dr MacSweeney.