THE number of people being diagnosed with dementia in the Hastings and Rother area has increased over the last year.
New figures newly released show that the number of sufferers locally is around 3,429 in 2011 compared to 3,399 the year before.
However, of that total, health experts estimate that less than half of people – only 41.7 per cent – have a suitable diagnosis for their condition.
This has gone up since 2010, but by less than two per cent, leading to calls from dementia charities and support groups for more attention to be paid to locals potentially suffering in silence.
The stats are for the area covered by Hastings and Rother Primary Care Trust but when widened out to embrace the entire south east of England, the study shows that there are more than 40,000 people living with dementia without receiving any of the benefits, drug treatments or support which accompany receiving a diagnosis.
And according to the Alzheimer’s Society, this delay in diagnosis can end up costing the taxpayer thousands of pounds because without the proper treatment sufferers are in need of far more support at home.
Chris Wyatt, area manager for the Alzheimer’s Society in the south east, said: “It’s shocking that well over half of people that are living with dementia still don’t have a diagnosis in the south east and so aren’t receiving the support, benefits and the medical treatments that are often available.
“We have seen an increase over the last year, but there is still a long way to go.
“Everyone is a little bit forgetful now and again, but when memory loss starts to interfere with your daily life it is important to get it checked out as soon as possible. The sooner people are diagnosed, the sooner they can get support and start planning for the future.”
He added that anyone concerned about memory problems should contact their GP immediately. Early indicators can include struggling to remember recent events despite being able to recall things that happened in the past, finding it difficult to follow conversations or programmes on TV or regularly forgetting the names of friends or everyday objects.