50,000 dementia sufferers in South West yet to be diagnosed
Nearly 50,000 people are thought to be living with dementia in the South West but have yet to be formally diagnosed and receive treatment.
The news comes as new figures reveal the extent of the condition in the region and the fact that more cases are being diagnosed than ever before.
According to the Alzheimer's Society, there are now 34,000 people living with various forms of dementia in the wider South West – an increase of 3,700 from the previous year.
Debbie Donnison, area manager for the Alzheimer's Society, said there was a lot which could be done for those diagnosed with the syndrome and urged patients to come forward.
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"It's encouraging to see an increase in the number of people that are receiving a diagnosis in the South West, but more than half of the people that are living with dementia aren't receiving the support, benefits and treatments that are often available.
"The NHS has made a commitment to improving diagnosis rates so now it is time for that commitment to turn into action locally, to help ensure people in the South West can live well with the condition.
"Many new services have recently been commissioned for people with dementia across the South West which we hope will have a positive impact on diagnosis rates over the next 12 months."
Figures released by the Alzheimer's Society show Devon is a hotspot for the condition, with 4,818 sufferers in 2012, an increase of more than 500 from the previous year.
In total, it is estimated that those living with the condition, including those who have not yet been diagnosed, is 13,589.
In Cornwall, 4,144 people were living with dementia last year, up from 3,752 the previous year. In Somerset the number was 3,211 in 2011, rising to 3,681 the following year.
In the Plymouth area, 1,237 were known to suffer from the condition in 2011, increasing to 1,430.
Across the entire strategic health authority area, which covers as far north as Bristol and as far east as Swindon, 30,248 diagnosed cases in 2011 rose to 34,097 in 2012. An estimated 49,172 were undiagnosed.
The charity advises anyone suffering from symptoms such as memory loss to contact their GP.
For more information, call the Alzheimer's Society on 0300 222 1122 or www.alzheimers.org.uk/memoryworry