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A million friends to join the fight against dementia

Published 8 November 2012

A trailblazing campaign will help a million people to make a difference to the lives of people with dementia and carers, Alzheimer’s Society announced today (Thursday 8 November).

Dementia Friends, supported and funded by the government, aims to increase dementia awareness and change the way the nation thinks, talks and acts.

The drive forms part of the six-month progress report on the Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia published today. A new forget-me-not symbol is also being launched embodying the UK's social movement on dementia.

Through free awareness sessions, delivered by volunteers, the charity hopes to give people the know-how to help people with dementia feel understood and included in their local communities. It is then about turning understanding into action - from helping someone struggling to find the right bus to encouraging someone else to become a Dementia Friend or a volunteer, no action is too big or small. By volunteering at the start, people will also be able to help build a network of Dementia Friends in their community.

Today Alzheimer's Society is calling on people to register their interest in becoming a Dementia Friend. People who register will be able to shape the social movement and will be the first to find out how to get involved. 

Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer's Society Chief Executive said:

'Nearly two thirds of people with dementia tell us they feel lonely and almost half report losing friends. With one in three people over 65 developing dementia it is vital we change this picture.

'Dementia Friends is not about a million token gestures. It's about rallying a million people from all corners of England to help make a better life for people with dementia. This is a huge ambition, but we are confident we can not only meet it but beat it. Dementia is everyone's problem and we all need to be part of the solution.'

Daphne Wallace, 72, a former old age psychiatrist, spent her career working with people with dementia and was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2005. She said:

'I think the public fall into two groups; those who are worried about dementia and those who are clueless as to what it actually is. Most people's reaction to my dementia is very dismissive. When I describe the problems I encounter on a daily basis, often people just shrug and tell me that they too have the similar problems.

'Dementia Friends is a real opportunity. Better public understanding of the condition will make a huge difference. It will make England that bit nicer a place to live, not just for people with dementia and the families who are affected, but for everyone.'

This increased understanding and social action is part of the wider body of work to help villages, towns and cities across England to become places where people with dementia can live without stigma and with the support they need to go about their daily life. It is being driven by the 'Dementia Friendly Communities Champion Group', one of three groups set up in March by David Cameron.

A six month progress report detailing the successes these three groups have had will be presented to the Prime Minister today. It will outline work on delivering Dementia Friendly Communities, Improving Health and Care, and Better Research.

Anyone interested in finding out more can register for updates by texting 'Friend' to 88080 or visiting www.dementiafriends.org.uk.

-Ends-

Notes to editors:

  • One in three people over 65 will die with dementia
  • Alzheimer's Society research shows that 800,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia, more than half have Alzheimer's disease. In less than ten years a million people will be living with dementia. This will soar to 1.7 million people by 2051
  • Alzheimer's Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and the millions of people who care for them
  • Alzheimer's Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Alzheimer's Society supports people to live well with dementia today and funds research to find a cure for tomorrow. We rely on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or visiting alzheimers.org.uk
  • Alzheimer's Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0845 300 0336 or visit alzheimers.org.uk