Dementia tests have plummeted by a THIRD during Covid pandemic as experts say lack of face-to-face GP appointments is partly to blame
- Dementia assessments have been cut by a third during the Covid-19 pandemic
- Those worried they may have it are ‘living in uncertainty’, a charity has warned
- The fall may have been down to people being nervous to see a doctor, NHS said
Assessments for dementia have been cut by a third during the pandemic – leaving those with memory loss missing out on NHS help.
People worried they may have the condition are ‘living in uncertainty and fear’, a charity has warned.
There were 19,393 assessments for dementia in September, down from 28,641 in an average month before Covid-19, revealed analysis of NHS data by the Alzheimer’s Society.
Figures show the number of people being diagnosed with dementia has fallen by more than 32,000 since the first lockdown
The number of GP assessments has fallen 30 per cent from 23,986 to 16,800 amid growing concern about a lack of face-to-face appointments.
The Daily Mail is calling for more in-person consultations amid fears that serious diseases are being missed.
However the NHS has suggested referrals may also have fallen because people were nervous about visiting the doctor at the height of the pandemic.
Fiona Carragher, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘It’s tragic the pandemic has left thousands living with increasingly severe symptoms of dementia, but completely in the dark about what’s causing them, living in uncertainty and fear.
‘Many are struggling even to see their GP, let alone a specialist.
‘People with dementia have been worst hit by coronavirus, accounting for more than a quarter of all deaths.’
Those worried they may have the condition are ‘living in uncertainty and fear’, a charity has warned
WHAT IS DEMENTIA? THE KILLER DISEASE THAT ROBS SUFFERERS OF THEIR MEMORIES
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders
A GLOBAL CONCERN
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders (those affecting the brain) which impact memory, thinking and behaviour.
There are many different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.
Some people may have a combination of types of dementia.
Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.
Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?
The Alzheimer’s Society reports there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, of which more than 500,000 have Alzheimer’s.
It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2025 will rise to over 1 million.
In the US, it’s estimated there are 5.5 million Alzheimer’s sufferers. A similar percentage rise is expected in the coming years.
As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia.
Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
Currently there is no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow down its progression and the earlier it is spotted the more effective treatments are.
Source: Alzheimer’s Society
Figures show the number of people being diagnosed with the condition has fallen by more than 32,000 since the first lockdown.
Around 850,000 people in the UK have dementia but not everyone has a formal diagnosis. Assessments are important to rule out other possible causes of confusion, such as poor hearing.
Since 2012, there has been a target for two-thirds of those with dementia to be diagnosed but the current rate is 62 per cent.
The Alzheimer’s Society study of figures from NHS Digital also show assessments at memory clinics fell by more than half in September compared with an average pre-Covid month from 4,655 to 2,593.
An NHS spokesman said: ‘The number of referrals to memory clinics is back to pre-pandemic levels and the NHS is offering support to patients and families while they wait for a diagnosis.’
Black cab drivers’ brains are being scanned by researchers at University College London to learn more about ‘disorientation in people with early Alzheimer’s disease’
Black cab drivers are being studied for clues about Alzheimer’s. Cabbies in London who complete ‘The Knowledge’ commit 26,000 streets to memory.
Studies show a navigational centre in their brain – the posterior hippocampus – is larger as a result.
Now researchers led by University College London are scanning drivers’ brains as they map out the fastest routes across the city.
Hugo Spiers, professor of cognitive neuroscience, said: ‘The brain changes of people with the best navigational skills could help us to learn more about the disorientation in people with early Alzheimer’s disease, who get lost easily.’