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Dementia Awareness Week

May 21, 2012

A poll has suggested more than four out of 10 people know – or have known – someone with dementia.

The Yougov survey indicates strong concern about dementia across all ages.

It suggests young adults are most likely to want to learn more about the condition.

The Oscar-nominated actress, Carey Mulligan, whose grandmother has Alzheimer’s, has become an “ambassador” for the Alzheimer’s Society to help promote awareness of the condition.

Carey’s grandmother – who she calls Nans – was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s eight years ago. The actress, who is now 26, spent many happy childhood holidays staying with her, and says they were very close.

‘Inspirational support’

Witnessing her grandmother’s confusion and distress as the disease took hold was painful for the whole family.

Carey says there is now almost no communication or recognition from “Nans”, but that she still delights in music.

She says the “inspirational” support provided at her grandmother’s care home in south Wales shows how people with dementia can be helped to live well.

“It’s based on time, and remembering that those with dementia are still people and they still have stories and they still have character and they’re all individuals and they’re all unique. And they just need to be interacted with on a human level.”

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I’ve seen the amazing dignity of life, and an amazing love that people can have, and amazing generosity”

Carey Mulligan Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador

The actress, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the film “An Education”, will promote this message through her new role with the Alzheimer’s Society.

She hopes to make a particular impact with younger people.

“Because they have their family members being affected they want to know more, they want to understand it and they want to find a way to cure it or find ways to prevent it, so there’s just a lot more interest.”

There is some evidence of this in the Yougov poll, commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Society.

Over 4,200 people took part in the online poll, designed to be representative of all UK adults.

Of those, 44% said they knew or had known someone with dementia.

And 61% said they worried about themselves or someone they knew developing the disease, but overall only 16% wanted to know more about the condition.

Among 18-24 year-olds, 25% wanted to know more.

Reach “new audiences”

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, expressed concern over the poll’s findings.

“Dementia is the biggest challenge facing the UK today so it’s not surprising that people are so worried.

“There is currently no cure and people aren’t getting the care they deserve. However we know that with the right support people can live well with the condition for a number of years.”

He said Carey Mulligan’s support would help the charity to reach new audiences and get people talking about the condition.

The Alzheimer’s Society is running events across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, during Dementia Awareness Week.

Carey Mulligan says she still goes with her mother to see “Nans” when she can. She says the dementia has caused her great sadness, but that the visits have sometimes been very positive.

“It’s always so wonderful to see a glimpse of her, and have a moment where she responds or where you can see her really at peace or happy. I’ve seen the amazing dignity of life, and an amazing love that people can have, and amazing generosity.”

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