Share The Orange – it’s never mattered more

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By Tim Parry | Friday 18 September 2020

Last September – and seemingly a lifetime ago – we celebrated the launch of the third chapter in our long-running and award-winning #ShareTheOrange campaign, featuring movie megastar Samuel L Jackson. This awareness initiative, which kicked off in 2015, plays a crucial role for Alzheimer’s Research UK. It makes the point that dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing. Rather it is caused by diseases, most commonly Alzheimer’s.

These diseases attack the cells of the brain, causing it to shrink. And skills, abilities, memories and a lot of what makes us who we are shrinks away too. The damage caused by Alzheimer’s can leave a brain weighing 140g less than a healthy one. And that’s about the weight of an orange.

This shows us that Alzheimer’s, and other diseases that cause dementia, are physical processes that research can slow. Or even stop. And this message is as critical as ever in 2020.

Tackling fatalism

We know from our Dementia Attitudes Monitor that one in five UK adults still believe that dementia is a normal part of ageing and a further 17% are unsure. That’s millions of people we need to reach to demonstrate the reality of the diseases behind dementia, to confront fatalism, and to underscore the potential of research to give us all hope of changing the future.

Since last September’s campaign, in countless cases, people with dementia and their families have sustained a terrible year. We know that people with dementia are vulnerable to COVID-19. The latest figures suggest a quarter of those dying of the virus are people with dementia.

We also know dementia death rates are markedly higher than they would usually be. The challenges of care during social distancing, and the toll of social isolation for people with dementia are, combined, creating a perfect storm for individuals and families. It has been heartbreaking.

A time for hope

The need for breakthroughs in dementia research, to protect everything that makes the human brain such a wonder, and to keep people from harm, has never been greater. Sadly, efforts to achieve this goal are under threat owing to the fallout of lockdown and economic uncertainty that has seen our charitable income come under threat. We’ve had to cancel some planned research rounds and are working hard to safeguard all our current portfolio of projects.

But, this World Alzheimer’s Day, #ShareTheOrange is about hope. As well as challenging outmoded misconceptions of dementia, the campaign is about a belief that research will find answers to our most seemingly intractable problems.

Our commitment to delivering this vision for dementia has not waivered. We will make up the ground. We will strive to restore the momentum we have built. Breakthroughs will be made and lives changed.

And everyone who shares the orange joins us in this belief. And so, five years after we first asked you, we ask you again today to please #ShareTheOrange

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About the author

Tim Parry

Tim is Director of Communications and Brand at Alzheimer’s Research UK leading a team covering media, science communications, branding, health information, digital development and special projects. Tim joined the charity in 2008 and has overseen communications during a period of growth, including leading the change in brand to Alzheimer’s Research UK in 2011. Before joining the charity, Tim worked in PR and communications roles in both the public and private sectors, covering education, the environment and industry.

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