Undiagnosed Dementia Cases Rise In Wake Of COVID-19

Undiagnosed Dementia Cases
BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam
Legally reviewed by: BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam In: Medical Negligence

It has emerged that up to 50,000 dementia cases were missed while the UK was under COVID lockdown, and around 1 in 10 new sufferers went undiagnosed, as referrals to clinics stopped. Experts have warned that the backlog could put further pressure on already overstretched hospitals.

Concerningly, dementia cases are already on the rise. Worldwide, there are already around 50 million people who have dementia and nearly 60% live in low and middle-income countries. Every year, there are roughly 10 million new cases – and those are only the diagnosed ones. The estimated proportion of the general population aged 60 and over with dementia at a given time is between 5-8%, and the total number of people with dementia is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050. Much of this increase is attributable to the rising number of people who are living in low- and middle-income countries.

Is there any treatment available for dementia patients?

There is no treatment currently available to cure dementia or to alter the course of its progression. There are several clinical trials ongoing that hope to ultimately provide solutions, but at the present time, the best thing that can be offered is support. The principal goals that are laid out for dementia care are:

  • Providing information and long-term support to carers.
  • Identifying and treating accompanying physical illness.
  • Optimising physical health, cognition, activity and well-being.
  • Detecting and treating challenging behavioural and psychological symptoms.
  • Early diagnosis in order to promote early and optimal management.

Dementia is not specifically limited to affecting older people, it is also known to have an impact on younger people. This is known as young onset dementia and is defined by when the onset of symptoms begins before the age of 65 years. Young onset dementia accounts for up to 9% of cases. Studies show that people can reduce their risk of dementia by getting regular exercise, not smoking, avoiding excessive use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Additional risk factors include depression, low educational attainment, social isolation, and cognitive inactivity.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises dementia as a public health priority and published the ‘Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-2025’ in 2017. Additionally, they have developed iSupport, a knowledge and skills training programme designed for carers of people living with dementia. It is available as a hard copy manual and is already implemented in several different countries.

Can you be compensated if a dementia diagnosis has been missed?

If you or a family member has had a dementia diagnosis that was delayed due to mistakes, then you may be able to claim for medical negligence. There are ‘four Ds’ in medical negligence, and these must be able to be proven in order for you to prove your claim.  These are:

  • Duty

Your solicitor must be able to demonstrate that a medical professional failed in their duty of care.

  • Dereliction

Dereliction occurs when medical practitioners deliberately or accidentally fail to follow the care standards that are set and you have suffered as a result. You solicitor must be able to prove this.

  • Direct Cause

This is the specific action or inaction by a medical professional that directly caused the harm or injury to a patient in their care. This must also be proven.

  • Damages

Damages represent the physical, psychological and financial impact that has happened in your life.

If you or a family member have suffered from the four D’s of medical negligence, then our solicitors can help you to make a claim for an  undiagnosed dementia case.

Read more on our medical negligence page.

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