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A whole host of celebrities including Jo Brand, Bill Nighy, Meera Syal and Robbie Savage are backing a new campaign to unite in the fight against dementia.
The campaign by Alzheimer's Society has been launched by a TV ad voiced by actor Bill Nighy, saying: “It is time to forget, forget about your age, your race, your social standing, your sociological view, forget about your allegiances, your tastes, your identity, or whether you voted in or out. Forget about everything that keeps us apart.
“Because” he says “dementia doesn’t care” and “it is set to be the UK’s biggest killer”.
In support of the campaign, ITV and Channel 4 both premiered the campaign ad – the first time the two have worked together on an advertising premiere for a charity.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive, Alzheimer’s Society said: “We urgently need people 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 hears day in, day out about people with dementia and their carers struggling. Some people tell us about the impossible choices they have to make, 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.”
Someone develops dementia every three minutes and there’s currently no cure – but the charity says people with dementia tell them that they often face dementia alone.
Ex-Wales international footballer Robbie Savage has revealed how he 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.
He said: “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.”
Family carers are also buckling under the mental and physical pressure of caring for a person with dementia. Kim Davies, 52, from Portsmouth, is a full time carer to husband Rob, who has Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed at just 51, after displaying symptoms of memory loss since he was 48.
Alzheimer’s Society has been a crucial lifeline for thousands of people like her, according to Ms Davies, who said: “We lost everything. I help him out of bed, he puts his clothes on back to front, I give him medications, make him a cup of tea, get him in the shower. I try to preserve his dignity. I put toothpaste on the toothbrush for him. I put clean clothes on him. I also have to care for my mum. But it’s not all doom and gloom, we still laugh a lot.”
Research conducted by the charity and Ipsos MORI reveals a great deal of fear exists around dementia – just under half (44 per cent) of people fear dementia more than any other health condition. Only a fifth of people know that dementia is a condition that results in death while just over a quarter wrongly believe there is a cure.
Jo Brand, ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society called it “deeply worrying that every three minutes someone develops this devastating condition”. She added: “What’s almost as worrying is despite not being able to prevent it, cure it or even slow it down, the funding of dementia research is far too low. We need everyone to unite against dementia and change this now.”
The charity is urging everyone to come together and unite against dementia, whether by becoming a Dementia Friend, campaigning or donating to fund research for a cure. Unite now at alzheimers.org.uk