PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New research has revealed some surprising misconceptions about dementia, which often precedes Alzheimer’s disease. This comes as Sept. 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day. Researchers from Alzheimer’s Disease International hope their findings will lead to better treatment.
Chris Maddocks has early onset dementia.
“One day I woke up and I forgot how to get dress,” Maddocks said. “Another time I was showering and I turned the shower off half-way through.”
The 63-year-old from Britain says to make matters worse, she felt that her doctors and nurses ignored her concerns.
“They just dismissed me as though I was just making these things up,” Maddocks said.
Maddocks’ experience reflects the findings of a new worldwide report that about 50% of people living with dementia feel neglected by health care professionals.
“This is a massive problem. You know we have 52 million people in the world living with dementia. One person is developing dementia every three seconds,” Alzheimer’s Disease International CEO Paola Barbarino said.
The survey of 70,000 people in 155 countries found that two out of three people think dementia is a normal part of aging rather than a medical condition and 62% of health care workers also believe it’s a natural outcome of growing old.
“Let’s be clear about this, dementia is not part of normal aging,” Barbarino said. “Dementia is a disease.”
Maddocks says she’s trying to educate others by sharing her story.
“I’ve gone from feeling useless to useful and gone from feeling hopeless to hopeful because I realize that there are still things I can do,” she said.
Experts say shame about dementia often stops many people from reaching out for help that could improve their lives.
While there’s no cure for dementia, health experts say staying healthy, learning new hobbies and even solving crossword puzzles may help stave off the disease.