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Better educated people with dementia less likely to be diagnosed, Welsh study shows

22 May 2022 2 minute read
Image by Sabine van Erp from Pixabay

Better educated people with dementia are less likely to be diagnosed, a study of sufferers in Wales has shown.

The study identified 124 people in Wales living with dementia and counted how many years they had been in education.

Despite a small sample size of 124, the scientists concluded that: “There was some indication that those with more years of education were less likely to be diagnosed.”

The new study published last week was led by Exeter and Newcastle universities and funded by the Alzheimer’s Society.

“Our findings indicate that more years of schooling increased the risk of being undiagnosed,” they said. “This finding is supported by numerous studies that show lower education is a risk for dementia later in life.

“People with more education may be higher performers, making earlier signs of dementia more difficult to detect on standardised tests since they do not reach the threshold required for a dementia diagnosis.”

‘Greater risk’

The study focused on participants in the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies Wales. They also found that people who lived in more deprived areas were less likely to have a diagnosis.

“In terms of neuropsychiatric symptoms, depression and sleep problems were associated with being undiagnosed,” they said. “Apathy was common across all people living with dementia, but those with a diagnosis were more likely to have severe apathy.

“This study has clinical practice implications as the findings may help clinicians be more aware of characteristics and symptoms of people who are undiagnosed or who are at greater risk of remaining undiagnosed, enabling them to be more vigilant in picking up signs of dementia at an earlier stage.”

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