The campaign, which is supported by the Department of Health, aims to improve the public’s awareness of dementia. The charity hopes the Famous Friends launch will encourage people in the UK to sign up to become Dementia Friends and run information sessions across the UK designed to help people understand what living with dementia is like for sufferers.
A survey for the charity by YouGov found that only 48 per cent of people in the UK have a good understanding of dementia.
Dementia Friends is being funded by the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s Challenge on Dementia, which launched last year to create a “radical shift” in the way society treats people with dementia. Government pledged to increase funding for dementia related research by £22m in December last year to help address the imbalance that sees more than 60 times more clinical trials for cancer than Alzheimer’s – the most common form of dementia.
Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society chief executive says: “With so few people feeling they know enough about dementia, we are so excited to be able to invite everyone up and down the country to become a Dementia Friend. Dementia Friends isn’t about creating experts, it’s about helping people understand a little bit more about what it’s like to live with the condition and then turn that understanding into action – anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend.”
One in three people over 65 will develop dementia and more than 800,000 people in the UK currently have dementia of some form, according to Alzheimer’s Society. More than half of these people suffer form Alzheimer’s.