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Campaign launched to tackle dementia

4th March 2011

A Government campaign to raise awareness of the early signs and symptoms of dementia is being launched today (Friday 4 March) by Care Services Minister Paul Burstow.

Aimed at challenging misconceptions about the disease, the campaign targets the family and friends of people at risk of dementia who are likely to be the first to see the signs and can encourage their loved one to see their GP.

While there is no cure, the right treatment and support can help slow the progression of the condition – meaning people are able to keep the person they love for longer.

Despite this, only around 40% of people with dementia in England receive a formal diagnosis. This means almost 400,000 people could be going without the vital support the NHS can offer.

The £1.2 million campaign will feature TV, radio and print ads. It will initially be piloted in two regions – the North West and Yorkshire and Humber – and if successful will be rolled out across the country.

The TV advert tells the story of a daughter as she becomes aware that her dad is struggling in a number of situations, such as leaving pans on the hob and forgetting where his car is parked. While accepting it was a hard issue to raise with him, the message is that acting on her concerns and getting help means she can keep the dad she knows for longer.

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said:

“People are afraid of dementia and rather than face the possibility someone they love has the condition, they can wrongly put memory problems down to ‘senior moments’.

“But if you are worried, the sooner you discuss it and help the person seek support the better. Don’t wait until a crisis forces your hand. Being diagnosed with dementia won’t make the condition worse but leaving it untreated will.

“We can’t cure dementia, but we can help you keep the person you love for longer.”

Dementia is a progressive and eventually terminal condition, but with early intervention and the right support people with dementia can continue to live well for many years.

National Clinical Director for Dementia, Professor Alistair Burns said:

"Getting a timely diagnosis of dementia is vital and we know that those who do receive one don't regret it. On the contrary, knowing about their condition helps them gain control and allows them and their families to seek the services and support they need.

"Timely early diagnosis and supportive interventions allow people to plan for the future while they still can. They have been shown to reduce care home admissions and improve the quality, not only of the life of the person with dementia, but also their family, carers and friends."

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said:

“A diagnosis of dementia is not just a label. It is vital to help people access support, get treatment and make sense of what is happening to them. People with dementia and their families often tell us that they were fearful of a diagnosis but that it gave them certainty and the ability to begin understanding what they can do to live well with dementia.

“But the big question is, how much do you really know about dementia? As dementia cases increase, we all need to take the time to understand and talk about dementia as families and as a society. Alzheimer’s Society is a good place to start or talk to your GP if you are worried about your memory.”

Today’s campaign follows the successful national campaign, ‘I have dementia – I also have a life’, which ran last year. That campaign aimed to raise awareness of the condition and challenge the belief that people with dementia are not able to still enjoy life.

This follows our announcement yesterday that the Department of Health will not seek any exceptions to the Equality act and the NHS must never discriminate based on age.

 

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