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The Oscar-nominated actress, who has a grandmother with dementia, wants to change attitudes to the disease and reduce stigma

The actress Carey Mulligan has teamed up with the Alzheimer’s Society and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to be appointed as the first UK Global Dementia Friends Ambassador.

In her role, Carey will be working to encourage both national and international attention on the Dementia Friends programme, and push for more communities to become dementia-friendly.

Carey, who was nominated for an Oscar for her leading role in An Education and has gone on to star in The Great Gatsby and Suffragette, has experience of dementia through her grandmother, Margaret Booth, 90, who she calls Nans.

She said:

‘My grandmother has dementia and I have experienced first-hand how devastating it can be. It affects everyone differently, and it’s so important that everyone affected by the condition is treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. At the moment, there’s not nearly enough awareness and as a global society we have a duty to change that.’

Speaking to the BBC about becoming a Dementia Friend, she added:

‘It empowers you to take away that fear that you feel when you’re in the street and you see someone who is maybe struggling a little bit. Or someone in a shop who can’t figure out how much money they need to work out in change. To take away that fear of “Oh maybe I shouldn’t offer to help just in case they are fine.”

‘I get really frustrated by really casual references to people, and it happens all the time, where you’ll be having a conversation with someone who will refer to an elderly relative as someone who has “lost their marbles”. It is these very casual phrases, but they are so often describing someone who has a condition and it’s just not treated in the way that other diseases are. So that has always sort of wound me up.’

Carey met with Jeremy Hunt and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society, Jeremy Hughes, at Heathrow Airport to make the announcement as it’s aiming to become the first dementia-friendly airport, with all staff eventually receiving Dementia Friends training.

Speaking on the day, Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, said:

‘We have made great strides in improving diagnosis rates, investing in research and creating the first dementia friendly communities, but we still have much further to go to promise everyone that they will be able to live well with the condition.

‘The impact of dementia tears at families and at our social fabric – that’s why making progress is a key government priority. Carey Mulligan will be a great asset both in raising awareness and promoting the benefits of the Dementia Friends programme – at home and globally.’

While Jeremy Hughes added:

‘Dementia doesn’t stop at UK borders – it’s the biggest health crisis facing the world today.

‘One of the biggest challenges in creating Dementia Friendly Communities is getting people to talk about dementia. Dementia Friends has proved to be a great springboard to inspire global dementia action. We are delighted that Alzheimer’s Society supporter Carey Mulligan will be leading the way in her role as UK Global Dementia Friends Ambassador.’

Find out how you can become a Dementia Friend by clicking here.

Sources: Alzheimer’s Society  People.com