Press release

Stars back new campaign to drive awareness of dementia

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Sir Michael Parkinson, Fiona Phillips and Gordon Banks to support national “A Day to Remember” campaign, calling for the public not to delay…

Sir Michael Parkinson, Fiona Phillips and Gordon Banks to support national “A Day to Remember” campaign, calling for the public not to delay talking about dementia

A new campaign which aims to increase early diagnosis rates for dementia across England by tackling the public’s fears of talking about the condition, has been launched today by the Department of Health with support from the Alzheimer’s Society.

The A Day to Remember campaign is part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia. It will encourage people to have that first ‘difficult conversation’ with a friend or family member when they spot the signs and symptoms of dementia, and encourage them to visit their GP.

New research[1] shows:

  • Half of people (50 per cent) say they would find it hard to talk about dementia to a friend or family member they thought might have it;
  • A third (33 per cent) say that personal concerns (such as fear of upsetting someone or feeling awkward or anxious) would discourage them from talking about dementia or memory loss with a friend or relative; and
  • That nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of people would not be confident telling the difference between the signs of dementia and the normal signs of ageing.

The three-month national campaign, launched on World Alzheimer’s Day, will raise awareness of the condition, what initial signs and symptoms look like and how to seek help. Advice on how to have difficult conversations about the condition will also be available.

The Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia was launched in March this year and included a commitment to change people’s understanding of the condition. In addition to the £3.2m campaign, the Challenge committed to transform the UK into a leading light of dementia care and research, by driving up diagnosis rates; and increasing investment in research and raising the quality of dementia care.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Dementia is a devastating disease that puts enormous strain on people and their families.

“Shockingly, nearly 400,000 people are unaware that they have the condition and so we want to make sure more people know what dementia is and how to spot those tell-tale signs.

“With the number of sufferers set to rise in the years ahead, I am determined that we go much further and faster on dementia.

“That’s why I launched a Challenge on Dementia in March, doubling the research budget and working across society to improve health and care, and supporting people to live well with the condition.”

Sir Michael Parkinson, Fiona Phillips and legendary England goalkeeper Gordon Banks have lent their support to the campaign, by sharing their personal experiences of dementia in a short film on the NHS website .

Welcoming the launch Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt said:

“Our goal is to make this country a world leader in tackling the challenge of dementia. That requires us all to play our part, including being brave enough to start conversations about dementia to get our loved ones the early help we know makes a difference.

“Awareness is just the first step towards tackling the stigma around this condition and we need to work together if we’re going to help those living with dementia have a better quality of life.

“This campaign delivers on commitments made by the Prime Minister to raise awareness of a condition predicted to affect a third of us in the future.”

Initial signs and symptoms of the condition, which is caused by diseases including Alzheimer’s Disease, may include short-term memory loss that affects daily life, unexplained anxiety or depression and problems thinking or reasoning, such as finding it hard to follow conversations or TV programmes.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said:

“Dementia is one of biggest challenges we are facing, but while there remains no cure, early diagnosis can help people take control of their condition and plan for the future.

“This campaign sends a clear and important message - if you have spotted signs or symptoms in your loved ones then have that difficult conversation because diagnosis makes a difference.

“With an ageing population we know the estimated 670,000 people living with dementia in England today is set to grow, which is why we have made dementia a clear national priority.”

Just over two fifths of those living with dementia (42 per cent[2]) in England receive a formal diagnosis, which means that many thousands of people with the condition go without the medical or emotional support that could help to slow its progress, or to help them to live well with dementia. The number of people in England living with dementia is 670,000, but this is expected to double in the next 30 years.

To help family members and others to start talking about the condition with their loved ones, the Alzheimer’s Society have issued advice on how to have difficult conversations on their website.

Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, Jeremy Hughes said:

“Talking to a loved one about dementia will probably be one of the most difficult conversations you ever have, but it will be worth it. Early diagnosis is crucial in helping people with dementia to access the support and help they need to live well with the condition.”

Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador, Fiona Phillips, whose parents both had dementia, is supporting the campaign. She said:

“If you think a loved one is showing the signs of dementia, it’s so important to take that first step and talk to them about it. There are things you can do to help; treatments can work well for people, but early diagnosis also means you can plan and get help, instead of doing everything in a rush.”

Ann Johnson, who is living with dementia and is an Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society said:

“I have found that the general public are more aware about dementia since the Department of Health launched its campaign to raise awareness of the condition. Hopefully there is less stigma surrounding the condition as well. The more people who understand the concept of what living with dementia is like, the better it will be for people like me. I want people to love me for who I am and be with me as I go through the journey of living with dementia.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • For further information contact the Department of Health Press Office on 020 7210 5010.
  • The new A Day to Remember campaign launches on Friday 21 September in support of World Alzheimer’s Day, it will feature:
  • Television adverts which air from 21 September and can be found on YouTube
  • The A Day to Remember which will be available from 21 September on the NHS website; and http://ow.ly/dQIf3
  • Newly designed print advertisements and digital advertisements which will appear from mid October.
  • For broadcast quality content of the _A Day To Remember _film contact vicky.morphew@freud.com
  • The Alzheimer’s Society Top Tips for talking about dementia are available on their website.
  • On 14 September 2011 the first national audit of memory services was published, showing increases in expenditure on and use of memory services.  The audit showed that of those Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) that submitted data to the audit, 94 per cent of PCTs have a dedicated memory service for dementia and a further 4 per cent of PCTs are planning to set up a memory service in the future. Average PCT spending on memory services has increased by 22 per cent between 2008/9 and 2010/11 from £486,000 to £593,000.   The average number of people using a memory service increased from 605 in 2008/09 to 951 in 2010/11, an increase of 57 per cent.  At the same time as announcing the audit findings, DH also announced £10m additional funding for memory services to help identify people with dementia earlier and ensure more effective treatment and social care support.

Dementia Facts

  • Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain with symptoms including loss of memory, confusion and problems with speech and understanding. It is progressive and eventually terminal.
  • The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease which accounts for around two thirds of all cases. More information about the condition, including symptoms, can be found on the NHS website.
  • Six out of ten people with dementia in England go undiagnosed. This means almost 400,000 people could be going without the vital support the NHS and social care services can offer.
  • In England today 670,000 people are living with dementia. This the number is increasing with one in three people set to develop dementia in the future.
  • The economic cost of dementia is £19 billion a year - more than cancer, heart disease and stroke combined. Only 42 per cent of people in England with dementia have actually been given a proper diagnosis. There is huge variation across the country from 29 per cent in some areas to around 67 per cent in the best.

Key research findings:

Research carried out on 868 adults by Mori for the Department of Health, September 2012 found:

  • 90% of people interviewed believe that dementia symptoms are easier to treat the earlier they are diagnosed. However, 42% believe there is currently no treatment available to help people with dementia;
  • 63% of people interviewed would not be confident telling the difference between the signs of dementia and the normal signs of ageing;
  • 60% of those interviewed say they do not know enough about dementia to help someone who has it;
  • 97% of those interviewed believe dementia can happen to anyone; and
  • 87% people interviewed believe that with the right treatment, the progress of dementia can be slowed.
  • 50% of people interviewed would find it hard to talk about dementia to a friend or family member they thought might have the condition;
  • 33% say that personal concerns (such as fear of upsetting someone or feeling awkward or anxious) would discourage them from talking about dementia or memory loss with a friend or relative;
  • 86% say they would be likely to talk to a close friend or family member affected by memory loss which was disrupting their daily life; and
  • 46% of those interviewed say they would rather not think about dementia.

Dementia signs and symptoms:

  • Struggling to remember recent events, although you can easily recall things that happened in the past
  • Finding it hard to follow conversations or programmes on TV
  • Forgetting the names of friends or everyday objects
  • Cannot recall things you have heard, seen or read
  • Repeating yourself or losing the thread of what you are saying
  • Having problems thinking and reasoning
  • Feeling anxious, depressed or angry about your memory loss
  • Finding that other people start to comment on your memory loss
  • Feeling confused even when in a familiar environment.

[1] Results are based on a telephone survey across England of 868 adults aged 18+, conducted by Ipsos MORI from 1-2 September 2012. Data are weighted to the population profile of the English population aged 18+.

[2] Department of Health estimate based on ONS population projections, March 2012

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