Alzheimer’s Society Cymru launches a new campaign on Monday 24 April calling on people in Wales to set aside their differences – from age to tastes and social standing to political allegiances – and unite in the fight against dementia, as it’s set to become the 21st century’s biggest killer.
Celebrities and sports stars including Robbie Savage Jo Brand, James Cracknell, Carey Mulligan, and Meera Syal are backing the biggest ever campaign from Alzheimer’s Society urging people to come together to defeat dementia.
Welsh football pundit and former international footballer Robbie Savage lost his dad, Colin, to younger onset dementia – which affects more than 40,000 people in the UK under 65 – when he was only 64, after being diagnosed at 58.
Robbie added: “People think dementia is an old person’s condition but it isn’t. My dad was struck down in his prime. Dementia can affect anyone anywhere.
“It was so painful to witness my hero and best friend gradually slip away. In the end he couldn’t speak, swallow or recognise me at all. To see him like that was devastating for the whole family. That’s why it’s so important for me to get involved with this campaign.”
New figures released today by the charity from an Ipsos MORI survey reveal a deeply concerning lack of public understanding about one of the biggest health crisis facing society.
46% of Welsh adults (16 – 75 years of age) surveyed online strongly agree that dementia is the health condition they most fear developing
30% of Welsh adults (16 – 75 years of age) surveyed online believe that Dementia is a condition that results in death
27% of Welsh adults (16 – 75 years of age) surveyed online said they would feel uncomfortable talking to someone with dementia on the phone
12% Welsh adults (16 – 75 years of age) surveyed online thought that dementia only affects a person’s memory
Someone develops dementia every three minutes and there’s currently no cure – but Alzheimer’s Society says people with dementia tell them that they face dementia alone.
Mrs Sylvia Gonzalez, who lives in Cardiff but is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2016.
Before her diagnosis, whilst back in Trinidad and Tobago, Sylvia used to run her own bed and breakfast and used to really enjoy gardening with her husband. Since moving to Cardiff a few years ago, she had found it difficult to make new friends. Sylvia said:
“I didn’t feel ‘lonely’ as I had plenty of family members who lived close by, but I didn’t have a community of my own which made me feel isolated.
Initially, Sylvia says there was a lot to learn and she felt that she was thrown into an ‘alien environment’. Sylvia reports that since finding out more about the Alzheimer’s Society and becoming involved in a Service User Review Panel Support group her understanding of dementia has improved and she has also made some good friendships.
Sylvia wants to focus on raising awareness for people in Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities like herself, to enable them become knowledgeable about dementia. She would like to see tailored events in diverse communities, in order to combat the stigma that currently exists in many households. Sylvia also highlighted; “It is important to not feel afraid of getting a diagnosis, as it will ultimately enhance your life by first identifying what exactly you have and then establishing how to live well with dementia”.
Sue Phelps, Director for Alzheimer’s Society Cymru said:
“We’re determined to bring everyone’s attention to the massive injustice faced by people with dementia and their carers, with too many denied the support they need.
“Alzheimer’s Society hears day in, day out about people with dementia and their carers struggling – from the carer having to choose between a knee operation and caring for her Mum, to a man with young onset dementia who had to give-up work and ask his daughter to pay the mortgage so he could pay for his care.
“There are 45,000 people living with dementia in Wales. We urgently need people in Wales to unite with us to improve care, offer help and understanding to those affected and find a cure. Together, we can bring about change.”
Alzheimer’s Society is the UK’s leading dementia charity and is here for everyone affected by dementia. They launch the campaign today with a TV advertisement voiced by acclaimed actor Bill Nighy at its heart, airing tonight from 20:55 BST. Through the campaign, they aim to change the landscape of dementia forever, reaching every single person affected by the condition to offer help and support.
The ad, directed by Oscar and BAFTA-nominated Daniel Barber and set to an original score by Will Gregory of Goldfrapp, plays upon issues that can cause divisions in society including age, gender identity and whether people voted in or out in the recent EU referendum.
Alzheimer’s Society is urging everyone to come together and unite against dementia. There are many ways you can get involved – whether it’s becoming a Dementia Friend, campaigning or donating to fund research for a cure. Unite now at alzheimers.org.uk
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