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By Debbie le Quesne

Dementia TV advert: Great idea, but underlying message scares me

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Have you seen the new TV ad encouraging people to become “dementia friends”?

A host of stars and living room TV names are featured in the promotion to help boost volunteering and support for the growing number of people with the condition.

Those who ‘sign up’ will get free education sessions so they will be able to spot the early signs of the memory-loss condition.

The ad features the The Beatles’ track I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends (good choice of music).

Stars including Chris Martin of Coldplay, comedian Simon Pegg, actor Ray Winstone, footballer Leighton Baines and presenter Paul O’Grady, can be seen singing along with novelist Sir Terry Pratchett, who has an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

I find the promotion by the Alzheimer’s Society just wonderful, but if you care to read between the lines the message is scary.

What is being said here is that the problem is about to become so huge, official streams of caring will not cope on their own.

English businesses are losing out on hundreds of millions every year, I read, because of employees’ caring obligations for people who have dementia.

The Telegraph reported that “almost one in 10 dementia carers have to withdraw from work altogether and 12 per cent have been forced to reduce the number of hours they spend at work.”

In hard cash, according to the newspaper, the reduced hours equates more than £1.6 billion of production.

I quote: “The report compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business research on behalf of Dementia Friends – the Alzheimer’s Society’s campaign – estimated that throughout this year 50,000 carers will have to quit their job due to caring responsibilities.

And a further 66,000 will have to make adjustments to the number of hours they work.”

Just about everyone, including Public Health England and the Alzheimer’s Society, are encouraging more people to sign up to the Dementia Friends initiative.

Dementia is big news and I know the government is running scared of its cost implications as we all appear to be living longer.

Many carers and care providers are already dementia friends; Dudley borough in particular has whole town that are becoming dementia friendly; the awareness of the disease is getting out there; and the need has an outcome that is chronically underfunded. We can’t spirit up the millions of pounds we need to make good the shortfall, but we can offer some help.

Go on, give it a bit of thought . . . and maybe sign up. See http://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/

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