Everyone with dementia deserves to know their diagnosis

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From: Arlene Phillips, Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador, St Katherine’s Dock, London.

IMAGINE feeling ill but being told your symptoms and behaviour were a natural part of ageing.

Imagine having a disease but there being no treatment, information or support to help you manage it.

Imagine if your doctor knew about your condition but chose not to tell you, as they thought nothing could be done to help.

For many people with dementia, this is the reality. Denied a diagnosis, denied treatment and denied the chance to plan for the future while still able to do so. It simply doesn’t happen with other conditions. Why should dementia be different?

Alzheimer’s Society insists this is wrong and I strongly agree owing to my own family’s experience of dementia and its devastating impact. That is why I am supporting the launch of its “Right to Know” campaign.

So many people with dementia say they wish they had received a diagnosis sooner. With that knowledge, they and their families could have understood the symptoms, found support in others facing a similar experience and prepared for the future.

They could have put their affairs in order, and most importantly they could have lived during this time with much more peace of mind.

For these reasons, everyone with dementia has a right to know. They have a right to know about their condition in order to tackle it head-on and make the best of it. They have a right to know about information, advice and support out there.

With your readers’ help, Alzheimer’s Society can ensure everyone with dementia receives the certainty of a diagnosis and the right information and support to come to terms with, and manage their condition.

More people must get the dementia diagnosis they need to unlock the door to treatment and support. The diagnosis process should be as smooth as possible. Everyone diagnosed with dementia should be fully supported to come to terms with their condition and live well.

The “Right to Know” campaign calls for diagnosis rates to reach 66 per cent in all areas by 2017, with ambitions in place to reach 75 per cent.

It wants no one to wait longer than 12 weeks from seeing their GP to diagnosis and wants everyone diagnosed with dementia to have access to a dementia adviser or equivalent. I would urge your readers to find out more by visiting the charity’s website: alzheimers.org.uk and look for details on Right to Know.