A campaign encouraging people who are worried about their memory to visit their GPs is changing lives dramatically according to new Alzheimer’s Society research.
Woman placing hand on man's backThe Worried About Your Memory? campaign saw materials distributed in GP surgeries across the country in 2008. It sought to address the huge under-diagnosis of dementia. Previous research shows up to two thirds of people never receive a diagnosis. A new survey from Alzheimer's Society shows that up to half of the respondents who requested the Worried About Your Memory? booklet went on to visit their GP.
Dementia affects 700,000 people in the UK. In spite of this, there is still widespread lack of awareness about its symptoms. Memory problems can be an early sign of dementia but may be difficult to talk about due to the associated stigma. Nearly 40% of respondents who requested the Worried About Your Memory? booklet said that they sought help earlier than they would have done and 1 in 5 received a diagnosis as a result of taking action. In addition, 1 in 7 GPs have noticed more people asking about memory problems since the launch of the campaign.
Neil Hunt, Chief Executive of Alzheimer's Society, says, Worried about your memory poster
'Dementia is not a natural part of ageing; it is caused by diseases of the brain and robs people of their lives. Raising awareness and improving diagnosis were both highlighted as key areas in the government's recently launched National Dementia Strategy for England and rightly so. Everyone is a little bit forgetful now and again but when memory loss starts to interfere with daily life it is critical that people get this checked out. The fact that the Worried About Your Memory? campaign is making an impact is hugely encouraging and shows how providing information can help change lives.'
Care Services Minister Phil Hope says,
'The success of the Worried About Your Memory? campaign is a step forward in making sure people are better informed about dementia. It is also helping to tackle the stigma associated with the disease, so more people feel they can come forward for earlier diagnosis. But there's lots more to do. I want to see more national and local information made available and our work on the National Dementia Strategy will help make that happen.'
Sue (53) and Barry (64) Martinelli, a couple from Lincolnshire, had been worried about Barry's memory problems for several years. After reading the information in the Worried About Your Memory? leaflet and booklet they approached their GP, who referred Barry to a specialist. Barry has now been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
'We both knew something wasn't right, but we didn't want to talk about it as neither of us wanted to worry the other. The leaflet prompted us to visit our doctor and talk about our worries.
Going to see the doctor was a big step, but the first step is the biggest. After Barry had undergone tests and we were told he had Alzheimer's disease, we both felt a huge sense of relief that we knew what we were facing. We were told to get on and enjoy our life - which we can do now we know what's wrong.'
Find out more about our Worried about your Memory Campaign alzheimers.org.uk/memoryworry