By Debbie le Quesne

Confusion over diagnosis leaves elderly out on limb

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Dementia care in the West Midlands – particularly the Dudley region – is getting a big profile.

It’s a great are to live if you need to access dementia care with ongoing initiatives to make more and more towns dementia friendly.

But we must never be distracted from the difficulties people have to get a proper diagnosis. There a many people in care home settings that clearly have some kind of dementia onset, but have never had a diagnosis.

News out from the Royal College of Psychiatrists underpins just how hard it is to get a clear medical understanding of the disease.

The RSP states that almost nine out of ten elderly people with depression are getting no help because doctors struggle to spot the symptoms or confuse it with dementia.

Speaking in The Times newspaper Dr James Warner, chairman of the Old Age Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists said that depression was not picked up because elderly people often had symptoms such as agitation and forgetfulness, which were not commonly recognised as signs of depression.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has estimated that two thirds of elderly people with a mental health problem have a condition other than dementia and that 85 per cent of older people with depression get no help from the NHS. It’s a sad, sad, state of affairs, don’t you think?

A statement from the Alzheimer’s Society said: “Sadly many older people feel isolated and have nowhere to turn when they are worried about their health but it is important that people in later life are able to talk to their GP if they are feeling confused or forgetful and notice changes in their everyday life.

“Depression and dementia can sometimes look like the same condition but either way it is vital for people to seek a diagnosis so they are in control and have access to the right support and treatments.

“More than half of people with dementia in England (52 per cent) still do not have a diagnosis – only by improving diagnosis rates can we ensure more people have the chance to live well with the condition and plan for the future.”

With an ever-ageing population, dementia is a huge social care problem that is not going to go away. Let’s hope there’s medical breakthrough very soon.


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