Groundbreaking short film by Alzheimer's Society gets Leicester Square premiere
Published 5 July 2004
Matthew Henderson is just seven years old, but already he and his elder brothers and sisters have seen how devastating it can be when a person you love has dementia.
Their grandmother was living with them when the first signs of dementia began to show. She was later diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
The news came as a terrible blow for the family and her grandchildren found it hard to understand what was happening to her.
'My granny used to keep saying 'When am I going home? Am I going home tomorrow? Or the day after tomorrow?' She had forgotten that she lived with us.'
In a groundbreaking new short film produced by the Alzheimer's Society, Matthew and his siblings, along with children from another family, speak openly about what it's like to have a grandparent with dementia. The film 'About my grandfather...about my grandmother' is part of the Society's continuing campaign for greater public understanding of dementia.
David McKee, author of the classic children's books about Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, will be attending the film's launch at a special screening at the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square. He says:
'When my first book for children was published in 1964 few people, including myself, had ever heard of Alzheimer's disease. There was no Alzheimer's Society to help support people with dementia and their carers. I am delighted that a patchwork tapestry of Elmer, made by local school children and people with dementia, will be on show in Leicester Square and that he can be used to help further children's understanding of such a major issue as Alzheimer's disease.
'he Society has produced an important film to help children and young people to understand more about what may be happening to a person they know who has dementia. I think this is fantastic, in fact, I hope that it will also help myself and others like me who are growing older and yet still understand little about the disease.'
The film will be launched at the Odeon cinema at 11am on Wednesday 7 July 2004 to coincide with Alzheimer's Awareness Week® which takes place in England and Wales from 4 - 10 July. The children that feature in the film will be in attendance and will be available for interview.
Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society says:
'When someone in the family develops dementia everyone is affected. Children and young people need support in understanding what is happening to a relative who no longer remembers their name, or who starts to act differently.
The Society, which is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, has a vital role to play in supporting people with dementia and their carers. We hope by taking this new film into schools across the country will be able to reach many children and help them understand more about Alzheimer's disease and all other forms of dementia.'
What the children say in the film
'When my grandfather forgot my name I felt like he didn't actually love me anymore, which is why he was forgetting me. But then I found out it was because of dementia.'
'When I heard granny had Alzheimer's I didn't really know what it was and then my mum explained it to me, saying that it's like when part of your brain starts to malfunction and you start to forget things.'
'My grandfather talks about things from the past, when he was a young kid and the games he used to play, but if we ask him what happened yesterday he will not remember.'
Notes for editors
- An activity bus, showing the Society's new film and featuring two new information leaflets for children and young people, will be stationed in London's Leicester Square on Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 July 2004, from 10.00am - 5.00pm.
- Q&A presentation with Dr James Warner, from 12.00 - 2.00pm on both days.
- The Alzheimer's Society is the first charity to be given this prestigious space in Leicester Square for awareness raising activities.
- Pin badge appeal featuring characters from the cult TV programme 'The Clangers©' launched at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich on Thursday 8 July 2004.
- Art competition encouraging children across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to draw what life is like inside their head. First prize is a stay at Disneyland Paris.
- Alzheimer's Society elephant mascot to tour Wales.
- Members of the Society's 23 branches in Wales will transport the yellow elephant to local authorities and local NHS organisations.
- The Alzheimer's Society is the UK's leading care and research charity for people with dementia and their carers and celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2004.
- Over 750,000 people in the UK have dementia. More than half have Alzheimer's.
- Dementia affects one in 20 people over the age of 65 and one in five over 80.
- There are 18,500 people in the UK under the age of 65 with dementia.
- For information and advice on Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia call the Alzheimer's Society national helpline on 0845 300 0336.
- Our website address is: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/
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