Long-time Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador, Fiona Phillips, has come out on World Alzheimer’s Day to call for more research funding for the charity.
The broadcaster, who recently revealed she is living with dementia, spoke out as Alzheimer’s Society revealed a 76% spike in visits to its website following the news in July.
The announcement also led to a 59% increase in online donations to the charity.
Fiona said: “I’ve always spoken out about Alzheimer’s whether through a book, a documentary or lobbying Prime Ministers and now that it’s turned up on my doorstep I’m not for stopping.
“It’s devastated my family and it’s the biggest health and social care challenge we face as a country.
“It already costs the UK £37bn, set to rise to £94bn by 2040, and yet our brilliant doctors and scientists still struggle for funding.
“It’s not just funding for a cure that’s being sought but simply treatments that prolong quality of life. I’m on a drug trial with UCLH myself; researchers desperately need more funding and if me speaking out about it concentrates minds, then all the better.”
Fiona’s late mother, father and uncle also had dementia.
Alzheimer’s Society said web pages that saw the most hits were those explaining hereditary links, diagnosis information and dementia symptoms.
A new survey by the charity also found that over two thirds (68%) of people think celebrities speaking publicly about their dementia diagnosis increases understanding.
It also found that dementia is the most feared health condition in people over 65, and the second overall, while 82% say dementia is a significant health and social care issue.
Over three quarters (77%) believe urgent action is needed to provide more support for those living with dementia.
Kate Lee, Alzheimer’s Society’s Chief Executive, said: “We can’t understate the impact of people in the public eye sharing their personal stories, and we are so grateful to Fiona for speaking out. It’s a deeply personal thing but it really helps shine a light on dementia, which will affect one in three people born today and is the UK’s biggest killer.
“Research will beat dementia but we need to make it a reality sooner – through more funding, more partnership working and more people taking part in dementia research.
“We are at a tipping point in dementia research – simple blood tests to detect Alzheimer’s and new drugs which can slow down Alzheimer’s disease are just round the corner – but progress could grind to a halt without investment.
“Alzheimer’s Society is at the forefront of this fight. We are making headway and feel we are on the precipice of better outcomes for people affected by dementia.
“I would urge people to help us carry on our vital work by donating this World Alzheimer’s Month. Visit: alzheimers.org.uk”.