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Moving campaign talks of Alzheimer’s as an illness, not just ageing

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Alzheimer’s Society is launching its latest campaign by New Commercial Arts, fronted by an emotionally charged, compassionate TV ad featuring a husband who becomes increasingly worried about his wife’s repetitive behaviour.

Going live today, at the start of the charity’s Dementia Week, the campaign spans TV, cinema, social and out-of-home, driving the message: “It’s not called getting old, it’s called getting ill.”

Built on research by the charity that found 42% of people put off seeking help because they dismissed symptoms as a normal aspect of ageing, the work aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of dementia and urges people to seek a diagnosis if they are concerned.

The centrepiece film, directed by Billy Boyd Cape through Academy Films, depicts a septuagenerian becoming aware that some of his wife’s ostensibly normal behaviour in fact displays signs of dementia.

The work involved consultation with leading clinicians and actively dismisses what are commonly and erroneously interpreted as typical signs of ageing – such as memory loss and repetitive questioning – emphasising they potentially point to dementia.

A 90-second edit of the film shows an elderly couple, the husband making tea for himself and his wife.

“What time shall we leave tomorrow?” the wife asks.

“I think about eight,” he says, emerging from the kitchen with two cups of tea.

The couple leave the house, but upon returning, the wife again asks: “What time shall we leave tomorrow?”

“I told you: eight.”

From scene to scene, she repeats the question, her husband becoming visibly more worried and his wife more confused. In bed that evening, she again asks the question. The husband takes her hand, looks into her eyes and says with compassion and tears in his eyes: “Eight.”

“It’s not called getting old, it’s called getting ill,” the onscreen copy reads.

Supporting activity reasserts the notion that repeatedly asking the same question is “not called getting old, it’s called getting ill”. A call-to-action encourages those with concerns about themselves or a loved one to contact the Alzheimer’s Society for guidance and support.

Out-of-home work will appear at some of the UK’s largest outdoor sites.

Chris Gottlieb, Alzheimer’s Society’s director of marketing and communications, said: “Sadly, many people put off seeking a dementia diagnosis because they think memory loss is a normal part of ageing, or are even in denial.

“Yet our research shows that it’s better to know – nine in 10 people with dementia said they have benefitted from being diagnosed as it opens up the door to treatment, support and better planning for the future.”

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