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Advertising for what?

I have been less than happy with the Alzheimer’s society appeals for funds, legacies and whatever, which interrupt my morning listening to Classic FM.

‘No-one asks to lose their memory …’ etc. A picture of gloom and hopelessness, underlined by the claim that nothing can be done for people with this condition.

The bottom line is: ‘Only we (the Society) are doing anything, and will do something. Give us money.’

A further initiative on the same lines has drawn attention:

This is more than disappointing. After 50 years of being involved with people with dementia – and with the other mental health challenges of late life- it makes me furious.

Where there was ignorance, passive acceptance and sometimes suffering and despair, a great deal has been learned, understood and turned into meaningful action. The Alzheimer’s Disease Society joined in the campaign and has been a significant contributor to its success. But in its current form we see it as having abandoned its role as champion of individuals with dementia, their families and other informal carers, and the professionals of every sort who devote every day of their working lives to using what is known to improve the experience of life, and eventual death with dementia – or recovery from some of the other mental health problems of late life. The Society’s focus – laid bare in these adverts – has become the seeking of funds to attract the favour of universities and other research institutes, and Government. Much of the research sponsored is in pursuit of the basic biology which might lead to a magic pill – and profits.

You can imagine that an advertising company will see an emphasis on hopelessness, suffering and such as a powerful way of attracting funds – but these things are a part of the process and experience of dementia and deny the very good news that life and death with dementia is OK for most people, most of the time. OK – not heaven on earth – but acceptance of the facts of life and death as we know them. Life with dementia allows us to enjoy each other, music, laughter and much more. Hobbies can be continued or discovered.

The simple joys of walking, the outdoors and nature are more appreciated. For some the reassurance of their faith gains a new dimension.

Willy Gilder writes to support this view from his perspective, living with dementia: Dementia is not a living death – I’m very much alive | Alzheimer's | The Guardian

Sonia Sodha does not have dementia and was taken by the ‘brutal truths’ conveyed by the advertising campaign. Many will be, but I wish The Society will return to a different set of values Will this brutally honest look at dementia finally get us talking or will we turn away? | Sonia Sodha | The Guardian


Each week we post a blog from David Jolley where he shares his personal views on relevant subjects.

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