NEW figures released this week show a rise in the number of people in Bournemouth and Poole who have dementia.

There are now 2,884 people diagnosed with the condition – an increase of 245 since the previous year.

But there are thought to be another 2,511 who are living with the condition in the area that aren’t diagnosed.

The new figures also reveal regional variations in the diagnosis rate with the lowest in Dorset at 32 per cent and the highest in Bournemouth and Poole at 54 per cent.

Jo Malyon, support services manager for the Alzheimer’s Society in Dorset said: “In many ways this is positive news because it shows that people are now getting a proper diagnosis.

“In the past people either put off seeing their GP because of the stigma or they were not aware of the symptoms and GPs were not always detecting it so it shows that they are now getting better training.”

She added: “Although Dorset is at the bottom of the regional table it has made one of the biggest improvements in terms of its diagnosis rate compared to other health bodies across the country.”

Debbie Donnison, the charity’s regional area manager added: “More than half of people that are living with dementia aren’t receiving the support, benefits and treatments that are often available.

“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 in the next 12 months.”

Over the last year, the Alzheimer’s Society has worked with Tesco to run a Dementia Roadshow and will be distributing leaflets about the importance of diagnosis to GP surgeries and other community facilities this month.

The charity’s advice is to speak to your GP if you are worried about your memory and experiencing symptoms.

These include: struggling to remember recent events (despite being able to recall things that happened in the past), finding it difficult to follow conversations or programmes on TV and regularly forgetting the names of friends or everyday objects.

For more details call the Alzheimer’s Society on 0300 222 1122 or visit

Early recognition is so important

Diane Wyatt’s mother was 69 when she was diagnosed with dementia last February.

Diane, a fitness teacher from Poole, is now a part-time carer for her mother: “I had noticed signs in the 18 months prior to her diagnosis – subtle changes in her personality that sort of thing – so I took her to her GP in November 2011.

“At first he thought her symptoms might be related to other causes but as she continued to decline we went back three months later and she was referred to a specialist who confirmed it was dementia.

“Although it is a blow, it meant that my mother was given the right medication which helped to stabilise her condition.

“Early diagnosis is important because then you know what you are dealing with in terms of getting the right support not just for mum but for all the family as we didn’t know how to deal with it at first so anything that can help is a good thing.”