The number of people being diagnosed with dementia in the Northern Health Trust area, which includes Cookstown District, has risen dramatically in the last five years.
There are now 2,932 patients in the local area officially diagnosed with the disease, a rise of just under 18 per cent from 2010, according to the latest figures released by the Department of Health.
Alzheimer’s Society has called for better support for people living with dementia, and their loved ones, in light of the rise
However, it is believed that many sufferers have yet to receive an official diagnosis.
The South Eastern Trust recorded the steepest increase at 26% and the Belfast Trust the lowest at 15%.
Dementia is one of the disease registers in the Quality and Outcomes Framework [QOF], the purpose of which is to reward GPs for the provision of quality care.
The health service is working closely with local GP practices to identify patients with dementia and make sure they are on GP registers, in line with national priorities.
The Alzheimer’s Society has called for better support for people living with dementia and their loved ones in light of the rise, which has been mirrored across Northern Ireland and throughout the UK.
In the UK, one person develops dementia every three minutes.
The Alzheimer’s Research Trust says the disease is seriously underfunded with numbers expected to rise by about 30% in the next decade.
While dementia costs the UK twice as much as cancer, campaigners say the illness gets a fraction of the funding for causes and cures.
They have also warned of a serious shortage of housing places.
Dementia is an umbrella term used to refer to a collection of symptoms that can result from a number of different diseases of the brain.
There are many different types of dementia, but all tend to cause problems with memory, language skills, information processing, mental agility, understanding and judgement.
Dementia can also trigger other mental health problems such as personality changes, anxiety, mood swings and depression.
In more advanced dementia, the person may lose the ability to get up and move.