Michael Parkinson backs DoH dementia drive

Michael Parkinson: backs DoH dementia drive
Michael Parkinson: backs DoH dementia drive

The Department of Health is reviving its dementia awareness drive in partnership with the Alzheimer's Society, with fresh support from Sir Michael Parkinson, Fiona Phillips and Gordon Banks.

The three-month government campaign, called 'A Day to Remember' launches today (21 September), World Alzheimer’s Day.

The campaign aims to increase early diagnosis rates for dementia across the UK by encouraging friends and family members to spot the early signs of the condition, and to act on them by visiting their GP.

A new film on www.nhs.uk/dementia features Parkinson, Phillips and Banks talking about a clear memory, and then discussing the ways in which their lives have been touched by dementia.

It is supported by press activity that targets children of people that could be suffering from dementia.

Sheila Mitchell, director of marketing at DoH, told Marketing: "Since the campaign ran we’ve had a 26% increase in people coming to their GPs mentioning the signs and symptoms from the ad, and off the back of that there has been a 23% increase in onward referrals into memory clinics.

"That gave us the business case to say there’s so many people undiagnosed, let’s run that communication again."

A TV ad, created by DLKW Lowe, which originally launched in March, will also return.

It tells the story of a daughter who becomes concerned after noticing her father’s memory problems and encourages him to see the doctor.

It ends with the line: "If you’re worried, see your doctor."

The work forms part of the prime minister’s 'Challenge on Dementia' push that aims to change people’s understanding of the condition and to make the UK a leading country on dementia care and research by driving up diagnosis rates and increasing investment in research.

David Cameron said: "Dementia is a devastating disease that puts enormous strain on people and their families.

"Shockingly, nearly 400,000 people are unaware that they have the condition and so we want to make sure more people know what dementia is and how to spot those tell-tale signs.

"With the number of sufferers set to rise in the years ahead, I am determined that we go much further and faster on dementia. 

"That's why I launched a Challenge on Dementia in March, doubling the research budget and working across society to improve health and care, and supporting people to live well with the condition."

New research from the DoH reveals that 50% of people asked would find it hard to talk about dementia to a friend or family member if they thought they might have it.

In addition, 33% of people said personal concerns like upsetting someone would discourage them from talking about memory loss with a friend or relative, while 63% of people would not be confident in telling the difference between the signs of dementia and the normal signs of ageing.

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