Alzheimer’s charity hails one million ‘dementia friends’ Posted on

BBC News, 21 February 2015

One million people have now signed up to be ‘Dementia Friends’ as part of a program to transform the way the nation thinks about the disease.

The scheme, launched by the Alzheimer’s Society, teaches people to spot the signs of the illness and help sufferers in the community.

It is part of a long-term commitment to tackle the disease and hopefully find a cure in the next 10 years.

There are already estimated to be 850,000 dementia sufferers in the UK, but this is predicted to rise to 1 million by 2025.

David Cameron has pledged £300 million to help fund research into dementia over the next five years for what he called “one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime”.

Retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Asda, Santander, Lloyds Pharmacy, easyJet, Argos, Homebase and The Royal Bank of Scotland have encouraged their staff to become Dementia Friends.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We are beginning to change for the better the lives of people with dementia and their carers.”

“More research and improved health and care services are fundamental to the work of Alzheimer’s Society.”

“But the real revolution is the one million ordinary people who have chosen to become Dementia Friends.”

“In communities across the country, they are working to eradicate the isolation, fear and despair felt by so many affected by dementia. Dementia is our biggest health challenge and the British people are rising up to tackle it.”

DLKW Lowe launched the TV advert in 2014 set to the Beatles hit ‘With a little help from my friends’ starring some of England’s best-loved performers including Lily Allen, Chris Martin, Ray Winstone; Pixie Lott; Paul O’Grady; Leighton Baines; Fiona Phillips; Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes; Simon Pegg; Hugh Dennis; Amanda Holden; Alesha Dixon and Ruth Jones and Sir Terry Pratchett, alongside Gina Shaw, a 61 year old singer and former nurse from Liverpool who has dementia.

The advert aimed to raise awareness of a new Dementia Friends campaign from Public Health England and Alzheimer’s Society highlighting that people with dementia can still live fulfilling and rewarding lives with a little help, understanding and kindness from those around them.