Getting a dementia diagnosis can be problematic

In Ireland, an online dementia diagnosis service is due to be rolled out imminently by Videodoc, claiming to make a 30 minute diagnosis feasible. This has the potential to reduce the process from the months and even years currently involved. Also, the new channel may be preferred by some concerned individuals and their families resulting in faster diagnosis. Initiatives such as these are to be welcomed particularly in light of a recent study published by Alzheimer’s Europe which highlights the significant barriers that exist to timely diagnosis this kind of creative thinking may help improve the situation. In that study, statistics from five countries were analysed (Czech Republic, Finland, Scotland, Italy and Netherlands) and revealed that on average it took 2.1 years to secure a diagnosis. The reasons for the delay are numerous and include first professional seen not considering that anything was wrong and refusal of person with dementia to seek help. Carers cannot access critical supports without a diagnosis, thereby exacerbating an already worrying situation. The response to a diagnosis is also important and varies significantly across countries. Education and awareness must be a critical part of any strategy to overcome these problem areas which is why training will be a key component of the Carelink Solution. At a broader level, initiatives such as the Post-Diagnostic Pathway Support Project conceived under the Irish National Dementia Strategy are to be welcomed. This initiative aims to deliver both emotional and practical support in the aftermath of diagnosis through a range of structured pathways. An initial report by the NUIG-based Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia  is underpinning work in this area with a strong emphasis on ‘well-defined and focused information sets’ and good direction to available supports and services. The importance of a personalised and localised response is underlined, as well as education and training.

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