Britain is bottom of Euro league table at diagnosing Alzheimer’s

Britain is bottom of Euro league table at diagnosing Alzheimer’s

Britons with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease take twice as long to be diagnosed as sufferers living in other European countries, research has found.

By Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent 9:00PM GMT 26 Feb 2011

The UK has come bottom of a league table comparing dementia care in European countries, with an average time lag of two years and eight months between signs of Alzheimer’s disease being suspected by carers, and the medical diagnosis being made.

Delays were more than twice as long in Britain as in Italy and Germany, and nine months longer than in Poland.

Ministers will highlight the failings this week as the Department of Health launches a radio and television campaign to encourage those who suspect dementia to see their doctor.

Care minister Paul Burstow said: “Dementia is still a taboo topic for many people. Rather than face the possibility that someone they love has the condition, they put memory problems down to ‘having a senior moment’.

Getting a timely diagnosis helps people to take control of their situation, so they could plan for the future and get the right support, he said.

The campaign is part of a national strategy to improve care of those suffering from dementia, with doctors told to stop prescibing drugs which can kill to thousands of elderly people.

Psychiatrists say doctors prescribe too many anti-psychotic medications which act as a “chemical cosh” for those with dementia, and shorten the lives of 1,800 people a year.

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