British actress Carey Mulligan has spoken out about the traumatic effects of Alzheimer’s disease on her life and is appealing for more awareness about the degenerative condition.
The 26-year-old Oscar-nominated actress, who has been named the Alzheimer’s Society's newest ambassador during Dementia Awareness Week, has revealed that her grandmother Margaret suffers from the condition.
After witnessing her grandmother’s struggle with the disease for the past eight years, Mulligan decided to speak out.
Mulligan says: “I am committed to helping Alzheimer's Society in any way I can. My family and I rely on the help of organisations like Alzheimer's Society to help us understand the disease and guide us in the care of my grandmother. It's been a privilege to meet so many people with dementia.”
Meet more famous people whose lives have been touched by dementia...
The glamorous actress and pin-up suffered from the early signs of Alzheimer's for more than 10 years before she was diagnosed in 1980. Her public diagnosis was a significant step towards destigmatising the disease in the 80s.
The 40th president of the United states died of Alzheimer's disease in 1994.
Sugar Ray Robinson
The legendary American boxer passed away from Alzheimer's disease aged 67 in 1989.
The world famous painter and illustrator died of Alzheimer's disease in 1978.
The English fantasist novelist has publicly spoken about his experiences with Alzheimer's disease.
A recent study by the Alzheimer’s Society and Saga Homecare revealed that nearly two thirds of Brits know someone with dementia and 63% of people have concerns about the condition.
The survey also revealed that those aged 18 to 24 are more likely to want to know about about the condition rather than people aged 55 and over, who are more at risk.
Mulligan hopes that her involvement will help raise awareness among younger people, who increasingly want to know more.
“Because they have their family members being affected they want to know more, to understand it and find a way to cure it or find ways to prevent it,” Mulligan told the BBC.
Find out which other high-profile characters have joined forces with the charity to raise awareness by watching this video about 'five things you should know about dementia'...
It's estimated there are around 800,000 people with dementia in the UK, with the number set to rise to more than one million by 2021 - soaring to 1.7 million by 2050.
Andrew Chidgey from the Alzheimer's Society says, despite popular belief, contracting condition is not entirely determined by your genes.
"If both parents have had dementia, people are bound to worry about developing the condition too."
"But while there are a number of genes that have been linked to Alzheimer's disease, it is important to remember that they only increase your risk of developing it by a small amount," Chidgey told HuffPost Lifestyle.
"To reduce your risk of developing dementia take regular exercise, don't smoke, maintain a healthy weight and eat a Mediterranean diet, high in antioxidants and oily fish. We urge anyone who is concerned about their memory to visit their GP."
Lifestyle Changes To Help Prevent Dementia
Drink Decaffeinated Coffee
A study at Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/02/01/decaffeinated-coffee-preserves-memory-diabetes_n_1246240.html" target="_hplink">decaffeinated coffee improves the brain's energy metabolism - linked to cognitive decline</a> - in those with Type 2 diabetes. "This is the first evidence showing the potential benefits of decaffeinated coffee preparations for both preventing and treating cognitive decline caused by type 2 diabetes, ageing, and/ or neurodegenerative disorders," said lead researcher, Dr Giulio Maria Pasinett.
Play Brain-Teasing Games
Everyday <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/01/puzzles-and-exercise-help-beat-dementia-symptoms_n_1122502.html" target="_hplink">games, puzzles and tasks were able to postpone decline in cognitive function and the ability to carry out everyday tasks, in dementia patients, for at least a year</a>, according to research from the University of Erlangen in Germany, published in the journals BMC Medicine.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/20/eat-less-remember-more-and-other-memory-boosters_n_1160584.html" target="_hplink">Eating fewer calories could help boost memory and cognitive function</a>, according to a study at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome. Researchers hope to mimic the same effect with a drug in the future, bringing hope to Alzheimer's sufferers as well as those suffering from injury-related memory loss.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre and School of Medicine found that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/30/eating-fish-protects-against-alzheimers_n_1120156.html" target="_hplink">people who ate baked or grilled fish regularly reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer's</a>. Reseracher Cyrus Raji said: "The results showed that people who consumed baked or broiled (grilled) fish at least one time per week had better preservation of grey matter volume on MRI in brain areas at risk for Alzheimer's disease."
Play The Wii Fit
<a href="http://lifestyle.aol.co.uk/2012/01/17/why-a-wii-workout-could-be-better-than-the-gym-for-over-50s/" target="_hplink">Working out using virtual games such as the Wii Fit could slow cognitive decline in the over 50s</a>, researchers from Union College in the US found. Participants aged between 58 and 99 were given a 3D exercise game to play. Compared to the control group who were asked to use a regular exercise bike, the 'cybercycle' group had a 23% decrease in advancement of mild cognitive impairment and showed improved 'executive function'.
Do The Seven-Step Plan
A study in The Lancet Neurology suggest that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/07/19/new-study-shows-seven-way_n_901934.html" target="_hplink">3m cases of Alzheimer's across the world could be prevented in seven simple ways</a>. The report recommends quitting smoking, increasing physical activity, controlling your blood pressure and diabetes risk factors as well as managing depression and obesity to help combat the disease.