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Nearly two-thirds are confused over signs of dementia

By Victoria O'Hara

Almost two-thirds of people in Northern Ireland think that putting everyday objects in the wrong place could mean someone has dementia, leading to calls for a better understanding of the crippling condition.

New research published today by the Alzheimer's Society shows that people are confused over what could be a sign of dementia and what is more likely to be general absent-mindedness.

The findings come as the charity reveals that calls to its helpline over the festive season between December 2014 and January 2015 increased by 60%.

Worried loved ones were seeking advice about what could be signs of dementia. The charity said that at Christmas, when people spend a lot of time together with family, they could be more likely to notice potential signs of dementia.

The key findings of the research showed that 68% did recognise that repeatedly forgetting names of family members and everyday objects could be a sign of dementia. Almost two-thirds (64%) also thought putting everyday objects in the wrong place, such as a mug in the cupboard, could mean someone has dementia.

The survey also found that people are reluctant to speak to a loved one about their concerns, with just over one-third saying they would feel confident starting a conversation about dementia.

Absent-minded mistakes are relatively common but when a person shows confusion around the order in which day-to-day tasks are carried out, such as the order in which you make a cup of tea, this could indicate a sign of dementia. Wendy Graydon, whose mother, Caroline Robinson, is chief carer for her father who is living with dementia, said that he was showing signs of the condition two to three years in advance of his diagnosis.

Wendy, from Magheraveely, Co Fermanagh, said: "He also repeated himself frequently and for a long time we thought it must be depression and this was suggested by GPs a number of times. Dad was never diagnosed with this. When he was diagnosed we felt very shocked - shocked because he is in his 50s not 70s or 80s."

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "It's important we tackle confusion around what are and aren't signs of dementia and give people confidence in approaching loved ones about their concerns so people don't delay getting help."

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