It’s time to change the conversation


By Hilary Evans | Sunday 15 September 2019

I believe research will change the future. But to accelerate progress towards life-changing treatments, we must also change the conversation about dementia.

Last year, we asked thousands of people across the UK about their understanding of dementia.

Our Dementia Attitudes Monitor revealed that one in five UK adults still think that dementia is a normal part of ageing and a further 17% are unsure whether that’s the case.

Confronting this misconception is essential if we’re to break through the fatalism that still surrounds dementia and embrace the hope that research brings.

That’s why we’re asking you to #ShareTheOrange.

A message of hope

Today, we’ve launched the third instalment of our award-winning #ShareTheOrange campaign which encourages people to think differently about dementia. Like the preceding campaigns, we’ve used an orange as a visual metaphor, highlighting the fact that Alzheimer’s disease causes physical damage which can leave the brain weighing 140g less than a healthy one. That’s about the weight of an orange.

This may surprise or even shock some people, but the campaign’s core message is one of hope: dementia is caused by physical diseases, most commonly Alzheimer’s disease, and history has shown that diseases can be slowed. They can be stopped.

We’re incredibly grateful to Samuel L. Jackson for fronting the new campaign and speaking out about the devastating impact dementia has had on his own family. The fact that he chose to back #ShareTheOrange is testament to this charity’s growing global reach, and we hope that his support will help generate the global attention that this important message warrants.

Research is the answer

The previous campaigns, featuring Bryan Cranston and Christopher Eccleston, have already enabled us to reach more than 20 million people, highlighting the scale of the challenge dementia presents and starting countless conversations about the progress being made in labs and clinics across the world.

And there’s a great deal of progress to talk about.

Scientists have discovered how our lifestyle can contribute towards our risk of developing dementia. The number of clinical trials to find new Alzheimer’s treatments has more than doubled since 2013. There are now more than 20,000 volunteers participating in research studies after registering with the Join Dementia Research service. And the UK Dementia Research Institute has established six centres of excellence, bringing together 700 world leading researchers to answer the biggest questions in dementia research.

The list goes on.

But you don’t have to work in a lab to play your part in tackling dementia. To help change the conversation and build support for research which will transform lives, all you need to do is #ShareTheOrange.

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About the author

Hilary Evans

Hilary is Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, which is a charity working at a global level to find a cure for dementia. The organisation’s aim is to raise awareness of the diseases that cause dementia, to increase dementia research funding and improve the environment for dementia scientists in the UK and internationally.