New research by Alzheimer’s Society shows that many people in Northern Ireland are confused over the signs of dementia.
The findings come as the society reveals that calls to its Helpline increase by a staggering 60 per cent from people seeking advice and support after the festive season.
Meanwhile, website traffic rises by almost 30 per cent.
Many people in Northern Ireland do recognise that repeatedly forgetting names of family members and everyday objects could be a sign of dementia (68 per cent).
Almost two thirds (64 per cent) also thought putting everyday objects in the wrong place could mean someone has dementia.
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 you make a cup of tea, this could indicate a sign of dementia.
As a result of the findings the charity cautions that there needs to be greater understanding about the signs that could indicate dementia.
Dementia affects everyone in different ways, but 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 programmes on TV;
- 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 when in a familiar environment.
The surveys also found that people are reluctant to speak to a loved one about their concerns, with just over a third (36 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. Talking about dementia can be frightening, but seeking help early offers the best chance of getting the right support, advice and treatment.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of 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.
The Society also has a dedicated webpage about the signs of dementia, advice on talking about dementia with a loved one and online peer-to-peer forum Talking Point.
If you are worried that you or someone you know may have dementia, visit alzheimers.org.uk/dementiasigns or call our National Dementia Helpline 0300 222 1122.