This week is Dementia Action Week, an important opportunity to come together to support those living with dementia.
Dementia is one of the most dramatic health crises facing the world today - it is estimated that a new dementia case develops somewhere in the world every three seconds.
In the UK alone, there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia. These numbers are projected to increase and there is currently no effective treatment to slow, prevent or cure it.
Almost all of us know someone directly or indirectly affected by dementia – in our families, in our places of work, or in our communities. And yet, many people admit they don’t know much about the underlying diseases or how to help people with dementia.
But there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and I’ve been heartened to see brilliant organisations like Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK lead the charge when it comes to driving awareness and mobilising resources.
Both recently joined forces for a special year-long campaign called Dementia Revolution. Last month, I was thrilled to see Dementia Revolution shine as Charity of the Year for the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon.
The atmosphere at the London Marathon this year was as vibrant as always, and I was inspired by the efforts of all the runners who raised a total of more than £3 million for Dementia Revolution.
The funds will support groundbreaking research at the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI), which is bringing together scientists from six cutting-edge research centres across the UK.
I was particularly proud to see that this year has been one of Virgin Money’s most successful staff partnerships to date, raising over £291,000 – well done, team!
Beyond running the marathon, there are a number of actions you can take this Dementia Action Week to support those living with dementia:
1. Start talking
The latest research from the Alzheimer’s Society shows that people are worried about ‘saying the wrong thing’ to someone with dementia. To that end, the Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging everyone to take action by starting a conversation; whether it’s calling a relative with dementia or visiting a neighbour.
To help start that conversation, they have created a short film of children interviewing people living with dementia. Their questions remind us that while people with dementia still have their struggles, they are still ultimately themselves – all we need to do is ask.
2. Sign up to help shape future treatments
In order to be ready when treatments become available, Alzheimer’s Research UK want to learn more about what people might want from future treatment. If you’re interested in lending your time to take this survey, click here to complete the online form.
3. Learn how to reduce your risk of dementia
Although getting older is the biggest risk factor for dementia, evidence shows there are things you can do to help reduce your own risk. These include eating healthily, keeping active and exercising your mind – read here to learn more.
4. Donate to Dementia Revolution
If you’d like to learn more about Dementia Revolution and donate to the cause, you can do so here.
Dementia can affect all of us, but with the right level of support, we can make a real difference and reduce the suffering for generations to come.