Dementia in New Zealand is a growing issue as the generation known as the baby boomers – anyone born between 1946 and 1964 – heads towards old age.
But research shows that more than half of cases remain undiagnosed, and that’s something Alzheimer’s New Zealand hopes to change with a new campaign it has launched today.
It has been 12 years since Eileen Smith lost her husband Ray at just 54 years old to the cruel and incurable disease that is dementia.
“He’s been my rock, if you like, and I guess there’s many days I feel I’m lost at sea,” says Ms Smith. “I don’t quite know where to go now.”
Around 48,000 Kiwis have the illness and many more cases go undiagnosed.
“A lot of people who get muddled or confused or anxious, people misdiagnose or diagnose it as depression, treat it as depression, to start with, and then realise even when the depression is better the confusion is still there,” says Dr Chris Perkins, old age psychiatrists.
Today, Alzheimer’s New Zealand is launching a campaign to raise awareness of the disease and highlight the importance of early detection.
If you suspect someone you or someone you love is showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, talk to your doctor, says the organisation.