COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Alzheimer's body turns to younger role models

KIRSTEN DOWNER

The Alzheimer's Society is publicising case studies of younger people with the condition to combat the stigma and fear surrounding it.

Since January this year, drugs that delay the symptoms of the illness have been available on the NHS. But these are only effective in the early stages of the disease - and many people are still so afraid of receiving an Alzheimer's diagnosis that they delay going to see their GP.

The charity has put together case studies of younger people with jobs, partners and families to help break down the stigma attached to Alzheimer's and also to provide the media with a new angle, said Catherine Griffiths, a spokeswoman for the charity.

"We try to show that those with the condition aren't alone by getting more people with dementia into the media and by doing interviews with sufferers who have jobs and families,

she said. "Younger people are more keen and willing to talk to journalists."

Earlier this year, the charity invited members and those newly diagnosed to volunteer themselves as case studies for Alzheimer's Awareness Week from 7 to 13 July. Twenty case studies were provided to the media, with a third of them focusing on people under 65 living with the condition.

The case studies were backed by preliminary research which indicated that on average there is a delay of three years before Alzheimer's is successfully diagnosed. In addition, the charity's research showed that fewer than a third of GPs and nurses feel confident about diagnosing the condition or talking to someone about dementia.

During the week, several thousand members ran local campaigns through the society's 250 branches and special screenings of the film Iris were held.

The charity is running a two-week billboard poster campaign throughout London, Manchester and the West Midlands to help raise awareness of the condition.

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