Page last updated at 07:25 GMT, Friday, 20 March 2009

Cause celeb: Broadbent tackles Alzheimer's


Jim Broadbent remembers how he coped upon learning his mum had Alzheimer's

High profile names can help raise awareness of a disease or condition, and bring it under the spotlight.

This video series talks to those in the public eye about their personal reasons for speaking out.

Oscar-winning actor Jim Broadbent has challenged the government to take urgent action on dementia research.

At present the government spends eight times less on understanding dementia than it does on understanding cancer.

He talks about the alarm and helplessness he felt on discovering his mum had Alzheimer's.

Jim Broadbent won his Oscar for best actor in a supporting role in 2001 for Iris, in which he played husband and carer John Bayley to Dame Judi Dench's Iris Murdoch, who was also an Alzheimer's sufferer.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative and irreversible brain disorder that causes intellectual impairment, disorientation and eventually death and is the most common cause of dementia.

No cure

Currently 700,000 people in the UK live with dementia, this will rise to 1.4 million by 2037, unless new treatments are developed.

Dementia in the UK
42% of the UK population know a close friend or family member with dementia
Dementia costs the UK £17 billion a year
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia

Various types of therapy are used to try to stimulate Alzheimer's patients.

These include: psychological methods, art therapy, music therapy, playing with toys.

Some health professionals try to encourage patients to reminisce about past memories as a way to reduce depression without the use of drugs.

A variety of drug treatments have been shown to benefit patients. None are a cure, but they can temporarily relieve some of the symptoms in some patients.

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