Dementia is the “most feared” health problem
One in four admit to being anxious to talk about the symptoms, a fifth will not see a GP for a diagnosis and one in five would not recognize the symptoms.
The incurable brain cast disease affects 900,000 people in the UK – enough to fill Wembley Stadium 10 times over.
Kate Lee, chief executive of the charity, said: “These statistics lay bare the fear and stigma that still surrounds dementia.”
She added: “It is crucial that we raise awareness of the symptoms of dementia and help make people more confident to talk about it, so that they seek out the crucial diagnosis that unlocks all the advice and support they need.
England face Switzerland on Saturday at Wembley, where the 1966 World Cup was lifted by Bobby Moore, who died in 1993 aged 51.
The Football Association and the Alzheimer’s Society are promoting the disease after it hit the winning team – five developed Alzheimer’s disease and it killed four.
Ray Wilson was the first to succumb, in 2018. Martin Peters died a year later while Jack Charlton and Nobby Stiles both died in 2020 – Sir Bobby Charlton is battling illness.
Writing exclusively for the Express, treble hero Sir Geoff Hurst, 80, said: “It is no surprise that dementia is the most worrying condition for millions of people.
“It’s a terrible condition that affected so many of the unforgettable 1966 squad. Talk about dementia – it could make a real difference in someone’s life.”
Analysis of the survey of 2,000 adults shows that people are more concerned about dementia than heart disease and stroke.
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock told this newspaper just days before the 2019 general election that he would invest £1.6bn in research over the next decade, or £83m. additional pounds per year. This promise was not kept.
Mr Hancock said the funds would be part of a ‘Dementia Moonshot’ – the search for a cure. The boost aimed to see research in Britain receive around £166m a year, administered by the National Institute for Health Research.
Money has been pledged for more clinical research scholars and researchers in innovative techniques, such as neurotechnology and advanced therapies. Researchers began to seriously consider a link between dementia and football after former West Bromwich Albion and England striker Jeff Astle died in 2002 aged 59.
An inquest concluded he was killed by an “occupational disease” resulting from the head – the first such verdict.
Current players are believed to be at greater risk of developing dementia because there is more ball head and it moves faster. The FA has promised to ensure that employees, players and fans receive dedicated dementia help.
The charity will in turn provide the FA with research and expertise so they can better understand the causes.
Everton fan Tommy Dunne, 70, from Liverpool was diagnosed aged 58 in 2011. He said: “My wife encouraged me to join a social club for fans with dementia and I loved it. I was surrounded by people who understood.
COMMENTARY BY SIR GEOFF HURST
It’s no surprise that dementia is the most worrying disease for millions of people – it affected so many of the unforgettable 1966 squad.
The memories of that day are still so fresh in my mind – Wembley Stadium, the cheering crowds and the lap of honour, the trophy tossed into the air. For so many dementia-stricken fans, those biting moments at the edge of your seat can slip away. That’s why I support the Alzheimer Society’s partnership with the AF.
I had the honor of sitting down with three England players to talk about it and hearing about Ben Chilwell’s moving experiences with his grandfather.
Football is about support – from your teammates, from your country, from the fans. We can harness this support to really bring dementia out of the shadows and help ensure no one faces it alone in the football community.
It’s great Gareth Southgate and the team are championing this important cause. I can’t wait to attend England v Switzerland which was dedicated to the International Alzheimer Society on Saturday.
Subscriber, past or present player, fan…we all need to do more. To create a society that understands people with dementia and ensures that anyone facing a diagnosis can get the support they need. Talk about dementia. It could make a real difference in someone’s life.
- Sir Geoff Hurst – World Cup Hero