Jul 30, 2013

'The Dementia Guide' Launched to Help Doctors Provide Support When People are Diagnosed

Being diagnosed with dementia can be a daunting and often frightening experience. I hope that this guide will help patients, families and carers to take some of the fear out of living with the condition. ~Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health

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The dementia guide

A new booklet to help guide people with dementia and their carers through their journey with dementia is being launched by Alzheimer's Society.

The guide is the first of its kind to provide the information you need after a diagnosis of dementia. It offers advice to help people come to terms with their diagnosis and plan ahead and enable them to live well with the condition.

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The guide is published a year on from the 'Unlocking diagnosis' report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on dementia found that many people said 'nothing' happened after a diagnosis showing that more immediate support and information was needed. The guide has been developed to give GPs and psychiatrists the opportunity to provide people with dementia and carers with know-how and guidance at the point of diagnosis.

Whilst diagnosis rates are increasing, some GPs are still reluctant to diagnose the disease and the guide is being introduced at a time where over 50 per cent (428,000) of people living with dementia still do not have a formal diagnosis, and are not able to access treatments and support. Alzheimer's Society is campaigning to raise awareness of the variations in services offered to people around the country and calling for improved diagnosis rates.

The dementia guide, which has been produced by Alzheimer's Society and part-funded by The Department of Health, is designed for frontline healthcare professionals to offer to people recently diagnosed with dementia.

It includes sections focusing on the emotional impact of a diagnosis; drug treatments that are available; signposting to services that are available through the NHS; social services, charities and private organisations; and support for carers.

The guide, endorsed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, will be available free-of-charge.

To order the guide visit alzheimers.org.uk/dementiaguide or phone 0300 303 5933. NHS professionals should order direct from NHS England's Health and Social Care Publications Orderline (using product code 872).

Alzheimer's Society has produced five top tips to guide people who have recently been diagnosed with dementia and their carers through the next stage of living with the condition:
  • Don't be afraid to talk about a diagnosis - Reaching out to family, friends, and support organisations can enable you to get emotional and practical support
  • Knowledge is power – Finding out more about dementia and the way it affects people will give you the know-how to plan for the future
  • Are you getting what you're entitled to? – A diagnosis of dementia can give you access to financial support for benefits such as carers allowance
  • Understand your treatment options – Talk to your GP about medical treatments that could help slow progression of the condition
  • You are not alone – Contact Alzheimer's Society to find your nearest support services.

Michelle Fraser's father was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 54. She said:
'It was an emotional and difficult time when we found out that dad had dementia. We weren’t given information or guidance to help us support him as a family. Mum and I felt like we had to cope on our own. A diagnosis of dementia is overwhelming. You have so many questions. This guide sounds invaluable in helping to answer the questions people affected by the condition have when you first get a diagnosis.'
Dr Alex Turnbull, A locum GP in Wigan said:
'When facing a diagnosis of dementia, it's vital that people have as much information as possible about the condition and support available, so they can make plans for the future. This guide is a handy tool that will give healthcare professionals the confidence to be able to diagnose dementia, knowing they can signpost their patients to help and support at the time they need it most.'
Alastair Balls, Chairman of Alzheimer's Society said:
'Many people struggle to know what to do and where to turn when they are diagnosed with dementia. This new guide is the first resource that brings together the key information people need following a diagnosis of dementia, supporting thousands of people as they come to terms with the condition. We hope it serves to convince more healthcare professionals of the importance of diagnosis, demonstrating how it can open doors and enable people to access the help they desperately need.'
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health said:
'It is important that patients have a timely diagnosis so that they can start to get the help and support that is available. Being diagnosed with dementia can be a daunting and often frightening experience. I hope that this guide will help patients, families and carers to take some of the fear out of living with the condition.'
Take a look at the dementia guide

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