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Dorset's dementia diagnosis rates among lowest in country
DORSET has one of the lowest dementia diagnosis rates with fewer than a third of people getting the help and support they need.
Recent figures have revealed there are thought to be around 8,452 people in Dorset with dementia but only 2,697 have been diagnosed.
This puts the rate of diagnosis in the county at just under 32 per cent, the lowest in the south west, where it is 41 per cent.
Dorset also has one of the worst rates in England – the national rate being 44 per cent.
The Alzheimer’s Society, a national charity offering support for people affected by dementia, is urging people to go to their GP if they are worried about their memory.
Jo Malyon, Alzheimer’s Society support service manager in Dorset, pictured right, said the diagnosis rate has improved since last year but is still at an unacceptable level.
She said: “The rate of diagnosis in the county is not really acceptable but things are improving.
“For the people who aren’t diagnosed it means they don’t necessarily have access to the services and support that is available to them. A lot of people don’t realise that there are so many benefits to being diagnosed.
“They would have access to carers, support and understanding of the condition.
“It’s really important because there’s also medication for Alzheimer’s which could delay the onset by a year or even more.”
She added: “A lot of people are afraid of the stigma and this is something we are working to change.
“Many people think that as you get older you automatically get more forgetful.
“It’s lack of understanding and awareness.
“We want people to realise that you can live well with dementia and it’s not all gloom and doom.
“The first step is to go and see your doctor and we are here to help people through this process.”
There are now 34,000 people diagnosed with the condition in the region, an increase of 3,700 since last year.
But there is thought to be another 49,000 who are living with dementia and are not diagnosed.
The diagnosis rate varies widely across the country, ranging from 32 per cent in East Riding, Yorkshire, to 75 per cent in Belfast.
The highest rate in the south west is 54 per cent in Bournemouth and Poole.
Debbie Donnison, area manager for Alzheimer’s Society in the south west, said: “More than half of the people that are living with dementia aren’t receiving the support, benefits and treatments that are often available.
“Many new services have recently been commissioned for people with dementia across the south west which we hope will have a positive impact on diagnosis rates over the next 12 months.”