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Now is the time to change the conversation about dementia

Hilary Evans

CEO, Alzheimer’s Research UK

This World Alzheimer’s Day there are fifty million people around the world living with dementia. This number is set to triple by 2050.

Dementia is not an inevitability. It can be overcome through research.

At Alzheimer’s Research UK, we believe research can change the future, but to have the best shot of succeeding, we must also change the conversation about dementia.

Last year our Dementia Attitudes Monitor asked thousands of people across the UK about their understanding of, and perceptions towards, dementia. We found that although more than half of us know someone who has been diagnosed with the condition, understanding of the diseases that cause dementia remains low.

More than one in five UK adults still think dementia is an inevitable part of getting older – that it’s just a normal part of later life. To make breakthroughs possible, we need this to change.

Dementia is caused by physical diseases, most commonly Alzheimer’s disease. We need to move on from this fatalism around dementia and embrace the hope that research brings.

This is where #ShareTheOrange comes in

The third instalment of our award-winning campaign, launched this week, encourages people to think differently about dementia. Like the preceding films, it highlights the fact that a brain damaged by Alzheimer’s disease can weigh 140g less than a healthy one. That’s about the weight of an orange.

It stresses that dementia is caused by physical diseases and these diseases can be slowed. They can even be stopped.

Samuel L Jackson supports film to challenge misconceptions around dementia

The film is fronted by Hollywood star Samuel L Jackson. We’re grateful to him for speaking candidly about the impact dementia has had on his family and for lending his support to this important issue.

Previous #ShareTheOrange films, featuring Bryan Cranston and Christopher Eccleston, have enabled us to reach more than 20 million people, helping to bring global attention to the important truth that dementia is not an inevitability. It can be overcome through research.

And global attention and action is what we need.

Working to find treatments for dementia by 2025

Now is a critical time for dementia research as we work alongside other funders and the World Dementia Council to find the first life-changing treatment by 2025.

Progress is being made in laboratories and clinics across the world. Scientists are discovering more about how our lifestyle can contribute towards our risk.

There’s been a 50% increase in scientific publications on dementia in the last five years and the number of clinical trials to find new Alzheimer’s treatments has more than doubled since 2013.

We must keep this momentum up.

But you don’t have to be a scientist to play a role in tackling dementia. #ShareTheOrange empowers everyone to confront misconceptions and change the conversation.

So, to help make dementia our next great medical research success story, all you have to do is #ShareTheOrange at alzres.uk/orange.

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