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The only way we will beat dementia is by uniting in action

dementia alzheimer doctor patient unit wellbeing
dementia alzheimer doctor patient unit wellbeing

Jeremy Hughes

CEO, Alzheimer’s Society & Chair, Global Alzheimer’s and Dementia Action Alliance (GADAA)

It’s time to face some brutal facts; dementia is the biggest killer in the UK. You or someone you know will be affected by it – yet far too many face dementia alone, without adequate support.

Research will beat dementia, but there is, as yet, no cure. There hasn’t been a new drug for dementia in 15 years. This is why Alzheimer’s Society is focused on pioneering research, last year investing £50 million into the UK’s first dedicated Dementia Research Institute.

Unlike other diseases that are treatable on the NHS, it’s social care that many of the 850,000 people with dementia in the UK rely on. But decades of squeezed government funding has left people with dementia and carers enduring inadequate care and crippling costs.

Today, we’ve published a report with harrowing testimonies from families up and down the country battling a broken care system. It starkly illustrates that the social care crisis is a dementia crisis.

While dementia researchers work tirelessly and we continue to campaign for the government to fix the broken care system.

What can society do?

All of society has a role to play in upholding the rights of people with dementia. We must continue to grow the dementia movement. Over 2.4 million Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends are changing the way the world thinks and acts about dementia.

In every school, train carriage and supermarket in this country, at least one person is already a Dementia Friend.

And it’s not just individuals – there are over 350 dementia-friendly communities and businesses – from local corner shops and hairdressers to faith groups and banks – uniting to ensure that people with dementia feel understood, valued and able to contribute to their community.

There are many community services also available to support people. Our Side by Side service teams up people with dementia with a volunteer to help keep them doing the things they love – and try new things too.

Twenty years ago, we launched Dementia Awareness Week and we have made great strides in shining the spotlight on dementia to eradicate stigma and better understanding. This year, in our newly-launched Dementia Action Week (21st – 27th May), we’re asking everyone to get involved by uniting and taking actions, however big or small. From supporting our campaign to find a proper solution for social care, to continuing to invite people with dementia out and making sure you listen and include them in conversations, people with dementia and carers have shared actions with us that will make a difference to their lives.

People with dementia – like Keith Oliver, who features later in this edition – tell me day in, day out, that it’s not just about supporting them but about upholding their fundamental human rights to live the life they want and are entitled to. We can’t do this alone – we need everyone to unite with us in creating a world where people with dementia live the lives they choose.

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