London: A new campaign, titled Memory Problems?,is launched today by ex GMTV presenter, Fiona Phillips today to help people recognise the early signs and symptoms of Alzheimers disease and distinguish these from the normal changes that occur with ageing.
The aim is to reduce the time it currently takes from possible symptoms being noticed in a potential sufferer to them seeing their doctor.
While there is no cure for Alzheimers, diagnosing and starting treatments to manage the disease early can slow its progression.
Research reveals the vast majority of Alzheimers disease patients are initially brought to the doctor by a family member (93%).
But shockingly the average time from symptoms being noticed to making an appointment with a doctor is 43 weeks. And almost half (45%) of patients discussing Alzheimers disease with their doctors for the first time are already experiencing moderate symptoms.
Delays in seeing a doctor were blamed by patients and carers on wanting to ensure symptoms werent temporary (38%), thinking symptoms were a normal part of ageing (36%) and, tellingly, resistance from the patients themselves (33%), according to the research by the IMPACT 2009 Global Alzheimers Awareness Study.
At the heart of the campaign is a website, www.aboutmemoryproblems.com , that will help provide practical advice and tools to help anyone concerned about memory problems in a loved one. It includes two innovative animations short educational films that bring to life some of the symptoms and behaviours that are early indicators of the disease and so prompt people to consult their doctor.
Diagnosing dementia is often difficult, particularly in the early stages, but this is when it is most important, says Professor Roy Jones from The Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE) Centre, Royal United Hospital, Bath, UK. If we can diagnose and start managing Alzheimers disease early, we can help patients and their families cope better with the situation. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this devastating disease, but there are treatments that may slow the progression of symptoms and these should be prescribed at the time of diagnosis.
Fiona Phillips mother died from Alzheimers. Her father is now suffering from the disease.
Figures from www.alzheimers.org.uk
There are currently 700,000 people with dementia in the UK. Two thirds are women. It is estimated that there will be over a million people with dementia by 2025.
60,000 deaths a year are directly attributable to dementia. Delaying the onset of dementia by 5 years would reduce deaths directly attributable to dementia by 30,000 a year.
The financial cost of dementia to the UK is estimated as over £17 billion a year.