People in the North West confused over signs of dementia

Dementia patients need care and time
Dementia patients need care and time

New research launched by Alzheimer’s Society shows that many people in the North West are confused over what could be a sign of dementia.

The findings come as Alzheimer’s Society reveals that calls to its helpline increase by a staggering 60 per cent from people seeking advice and support after the festive season, many of whom are worried about what could be signs of dementia.

Website traffic rises by almost 30 per cent.

At Christmas, when people spend a lot of time together with family or friends whom they haven’t seen for a while, they could be more likely to notice changes that could be signs of dementia.

Many people in the North West did recognise that repeatedly forgetting names of family members and everyday objects could be a sign of dementia (69 per cent).

But nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) also thought putting everyday objects in the wrong place, such as a mug of tea in the cupboard, could mean someone has dementia.

Experts explain that absent-minded mistakes are relatively common, but when a person shows confusion around the order in which day-to-day tasks are carried out, such as the order in which to make a cup of tea, this could indicate a sign of dementia.

People should seek medical advice if they notice that they:

- Struggle to remember recent events, although they can easily recall things that happened in the past,

- Find it hard to follow conversations or TV programmes,

- Forget the names of friends or everyday objects,

- Cannot recall things they have heard, seen or read,

- Notice that they repeat themselves or lose the thread of what they are saying,

- Have problems thinking and reasoning,

- Feel anxious, depressed or angry about their forgetfulness,

- Find that other people start to comment on their forgetfulness,

- Feel confused even in a familiar environment.

The surveys also found that people are reluctant to speak to a loved one about their concerns, with only two fifths (40 per cent) saying that they would feel confident starting a conversation about dementia with someone they were concerned about.

This was confirmed by a separate survey of people affected by dementia across the UK which showed that worryingly, over half (56 per cent) waited at least six to twelve months after noticing dementia symptoms before seeking help.

Nearly a third (30 per cent) waited over a year or more.

Helen Morris, services manager for Greater Manchester at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We know dementia is the most feared illness for many, and there’s no question that it can have a devastating impact on people, their family and friends.

“It’s important we tackle confusion around what are and aren’t signs of dementia, and help give people confidence in approaching loved ones about their concerns so people don’t delay getting help.

“Dementia can strip you of connections to the people you love, but we have many services that can help stop that and support you.”

Alzheimer’s Society runs a number of local services including befriending services, dementia cafes, and dementia support workers.

It also has a dedicated web page about the signs of dementia, advice on talking about dementia with a loved one, and an online peer-to-peer forum, Talking Point.

If you are worried that you or someone you know may have dementia, visit www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementiasigns, or call 0300 222 1122.