A conference in Ballymena, hosted by the Alzheimer’s Society, was told there are currently 19,765 people living with dementia in Northern Ireland.
Those who gathered at the Adair Arms Hotel were also informed that this figure is expected to rise to 25,000 by 2021.
Whilst diagnosis rates in Northern Ireland are above the UK average, they have stalled in recent years with just over half (52.5 per cent) of people with dementia receiving a diagnosis.
Alzheimer’s Society has led the way in calling for health professionals to recognise how important an early diagnosis is.
The ‘Right to Know’ campaign pushes the government and the NHS to improve diagnosis rates and ensure they continue to improve. A prompt diagnosis is important so people can understand the condition and how to manage it, maintaining their independence for as long as possible and accessing all the available support and services.
Adele Doherty, Alzheimer’s Society Regional Operations Manager in Northern Ireland said: “Northern Ireland has been leading the way with a high average of diagnosis rates compared to the rest of the UK and Alzheimer’s Society wants to see this continue. Alzheimer’s Society will continue to work with the Health & Social Care Board to ensure that people concerned about their memory have appropriate routes of referral to and from GP practices to memory services for assessment and diagnosis.”
lizabeth Byrne McCullough, Policy and Public Affairs Officer, spoke about the Right to Know campaign: “There is great variation in diagnosis rates in each trust, it is about replicating the good practice and making sure it’s done everywhere.”