Health

Memory loss 'should not be ignored'

Alzheimer's patient and memory blocks
Image caption Forgetting the name of friends or everyday objects could be a sign of dementia

People suffering memory problems should not delay seeking medical help, in case they have dementia, a charity says.

The Alzheimer's Society is sending leaflets and posters to 10,000 GP surgeries across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to promote early help.

Memory loss can be a symptom of dementia, but only a third of people with dementia receive a diagnosis.

Dementia is one of the biggest health challenges facing society, says the government.

Ruth Sutherland, acting chief executive of Alzheimer's Society, said: "Memory loss can be a symptom of dementia, along with confusion and mood changes. The sooner people seek help, the sooner they can start living their lives to the full."

Dementia is not a single illness but a group of symptoms caused by damage to the brain.

It affects everyone in different ways, says the society.

Memory problems could include: difficulty remembering recent events, finding it hard to follow conversations or TV programmes, forgetting the name of friends or everyday objects, repeating yourself and feeling anxious, depressed or angry about your forgetfulness.

Care Services minister Paul Burstow said: "There are 750,000 people living with dementia in the UK and it is one of the most significant health challenges facing society.

"Many people wait a long time before reporting symptoms of dementia to their doctor, and too often people don't receive a formal diagnosis.

"Without a diagnosis, people cannot receive appropriate support and information," he said.

The campaign follows one in 2009 which reached 80,000 people through the delivery of leaflets to GPs across the country.

Of the people who requested further information, one in five went on to get a diagnosis, says the Alzheimer's Society.

The society predicts that in 15 years, one million people will be living with dementia. This number will rise to 1.7 million people by 2051, it says.

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