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Carey Mulligan and Ruth Jones call on public to make this Christmas dementia-friendly

Published 16 December 2014

Celebrities including Hollywood actress, Carey Mulligan and comedian, Ruth Jones spoke out about their personal experiences of dementia at Alzheimer's Society's annual Christmas carol concert.

Celebrities including Hollywood actress, Carey Mulligan and comedian, Ruth Jones spoke out about their personal experiences of dementia at Alzheimer's Society's annual Christmas carol concert at St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge this evening (Tuesday 16 December).

The festive church service was hosted by Ruth Jones, with readings also given by actors, Kevin Whately and Hattie Morahan.  Whilst at the event, the celebrity supporters, joined by children's TV presenter Richard McCourt, called on the public to become Dementia Friends this Christmas, joining over half a million people who have already signed up to the campaign. This was in response to research released today by Alzheimer's Society showing that half (49%) of people affected by dementia think Christmas is an isolating time for people with the condition.

Carey Mulligan, who has been a supporter of Alzheimer's Society since 2012 spoke about her grandmother, Nans, who has dementia and joined the call to action. Carey said:

'It's so upsetting to hear that people living with dementia are being left isolated at Christmas time. I think if people understood a bit more about the condition and the small things they can do to help, they wouldn't shy away from including people with dementia and inviting them to festive events and get-togethers. I would encourage everyone to become a Dementia Friend this Christmas and make it a happier one for people living with the condition.'

Comedian, actress and Dementia Friend, Ruth Jones hosted the evening. She said:

'My mother-in-law Margaret had dementia. It was heart breaking to see the decline of such an intelligent and fun loving woman. When Margaret was first diagnosed I read up on the subject so I knew what to look out for. However, too many people don't really know what dementia is, how to spot the signs, and how to make life easier for people living with the condition in their community.

'Too often this results in people being isolated and excluded, which is especially sad at a time like Christmas when families and friends usually get together. It shouldn't be like this and it doesn't have to be if people had a better understanding of the illness.

'I'm urging people to sign up to become a Dementia Friend this Christmas and find out more about a condition that will affect all of our lives at some point. With more understanding of dementia, we can ensure people living with the condition feel part of the family and their community this Christmas.'

By 2015, there will be 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. Dementia Friends was launched to tackle the stigma and lack of understanding that means many people with the condition experience loneliness and social exclusion. Anyone can become a Dementia Friend by watching a short online video or attending a face-to-face session. To find out more visit dementiafriends.org.uk

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Notes to editors

1. For confidential advice, information and support, please call Alzheimer's Society's helpline on 0300 222 1122. Christmas opening hours can be found at alzheimers.org.uk/helpline:

2. For more information, please contact Alzheimer's Society's Press Office on press@alzheimers.org.uk / 0207 423 3595 or freuds press office on 020 3003 6502,press@alzheimers.org.uk

3. For more information on becoming a Dementia Friend, visit dementiafriends.org.uk.

4. Public Health England's mission is to protect and improve the nation's health and to address inequalities through working with national and local government, the NHS, industry and the voluntary and community sector. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk

5. Alzheimer’s Society is the UK's leading support and research charity for people with dementia, their families and carers. We provide information and support to people with any form of dementia and their carers through our publications, National Dementia Helpline, website, and more than 2,000 local services. We campaign for better quality of life for people with dementia and greater understanding of dementia. We also fund an innovative programme of medical and social research into the cause, cure and prevention of dementia and the care people receive.